A blatant dive by Geelong superstar Tom Hawkins has sparked a heated debate over the new AFL controversy.
Hawkins – one of the biggest players in the competition, and arguably the best key forward – overdid Hawthorn defender Sam Frost’s touch and leaped dramatically in the air to earn himself a free kick.
The referee fell for it and rewarded Hawkins’ theatrical performances, stunning the Hawks who were on course for an upset victory on Easter Monday.
READ MORE: Epic field goal is NRL’s biggest upset of season
READ MORE: NRL’s most criticized man’s reaction to epic win melts hearts
But it was after the free kick was paid that the real controversy took place.
As Hawkins lined up for his shot and Frost gaped at the big-screen replay, the referee imposed a 50-yard penalty for “referee abuse”.
It wasn’t against Frost, but against two of his teammates, who had begged the referees to watch the replay on the screen and realize their mistake in awarding the free kick.
The AFL has announced a crackdown on ‘abuse’ this season, which essentially means players are not allowed to question a decision during play, or risk being penalised. They were penalized simply for holding out their arms in exasperation.
For Hawkins, that meant his blatant showmanship was rewarded not just with a free-kick, but also a shot straight in front of goal thanks to the extra 50-yard penalty.
Players, fans and commentators could hardly believe what they were seeing.
AFL great Garry Lyon was furious when he spoke to Fox Footy afterwards.
He supports the crackdown on referee dissent, but is furious at the inconsistency in the way it is deployed.
“This dissent issue…what we’ve seen over the weekend suggests there’s a crisis…it’s a shame what we’ve seen over the weekend,” Lyon said.
Hawks stun Cats with insanely quick goal
“If they say this (raised arms) is a sign of dissent, pay for it.
“(AFL football manager) Brad (Scott) has to speak very loudly (Tuesday) and if that’s it then that’s it – because right now it’s embarrassing that our competition professional unfolds like that.”
After the game, Hawthorn’s James Sicily was asked what the players thought of the crackdown.
“It’s tough,” he told Fox Footy.
“I feel like if it’s not demonstrative sometimes it’s just a reflex because it’s been like this for so long. But I guess that’s why they try to implement it and we must try to respect it as much as possible.
“It’s really difficult when the matches are tight and the emotions are high.
“To be honest, I’m not clear on that. I’m just trying to keep my hands to myself and stay there.”
The Hawks upset the Cats 14.8 (92) to 11.14 (80).
For a daily dose of the best news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by click here!
The AFL’s biggest trading mistakes that backfired on the teams involved