OVENS and Murray football umpires cop abuse from spectators every weekend.
And club officials aren’t willing to control it, says Wangaratta top cop and umpire David Ryan.
Inspector Ryan said if offensive behaviour is tolerated at football matches, it is tolerated in society and it could contribute to violence on the street and in the home.
Insp Ryan and other umpires received personal and derogative abuse during Sunday’s elimination final between Wangaratta Rovers and North Albury.
League umpiring development manager Mark Bywater confirmed there were “issues” from the crowd, particularly as umpires were walking off the ground at the end of the match.
“It’s difficult for us,” Mr Bywater said.
“We don’t have any control.
“It’s hoped the league and the clubs identify those issues early and try and stop it.”
AFL Border North East regional general manager John O’Donohue said officials were notified of the abuse, but there was no investigation.
Mr O’Donohue said a minority of people were involved.
“It’s having a massive effect on our ability to recruit umpires,” he said.
“The ones we’ve got we need to respect.
“You wouldn’t tolerate it in the street.
“There’s no reason why we should accept it at the football.”
But Insp Ryan, an umpire for eight years, said such sentiments were not preventing it from happening every single weekend.
And every year the league has lost umpires because of it. He said in more than 200 games, there hadn’t been one free of abuse from the crowd.
“That’s the sad part about it,” Insp Ryan said.
“Behaviour that our young men exhibit in life is learnt from these early experiences.
“What they see exhibited by other males around them is what they’ll repeat.
“If we don’t wake-up we are going to continue to see violent assaults from these young men as they grow older.”
He fears if it’s made all right on the weekend, then it’s “all right” during the week — both in the home and on the street.
“It’s my fear it will cross over into family violence,” he said.
Programs that aim to stamp it out aren’t gaining traction because there’s an “unwillingness at club level to address it”.
“There is a cultural behaviour within sporting clubs that the leaders of these clubs aren’t willing to control,” Insp Ryan said.
Ovens and Murray general manager Aaron McGlynn warned any form of anti-social behaviour would not be tolerated during finals.
“Security and police will be present throughout the finals series and anyone engaging in abuse or anti-social behaviour will find themselves removed from the venue,” Mr McGlynn said.
“Emotions often run high in finals but there is no excuse.”
Insp Ryan suggested laws might have to looked at changed to allow police to fine people who persist in abuses.