Akermanis investigated for cyber bullying under AFL policy

Hoppers coach Jason Akermanis has been accused of cyber bullying an umpire.

Hoppers coach Jason Akermanis has been accused of cyber bullying an umpire.

NORTH Albury coach Jason Akermanis is the subject of a landmark complaint for breaching the AFL Victoria cyber safety policy.

The complaint against the triple Brisbane premiership player and Brownlow medallist has been lodged with the Ovens and Murray Football-Netball League, which is expected to announce an investigation next week.

AFL North East Border has made the complaint after its umpire development manager Mark Bywater was the alleged target of repeated abuse from Akermanis.

AFL North East Border regional manager John O’Donohue confirmed the complaint was sent to the O and M this week.

The cyber safety policy was introduced three years ago, with no person from the North East utilising the policy to date.

If charges are laid they would be heard by the O and M independent tribunal.

The complaint alleges Akermanis sent repeated text messages and emails to Mr Bywater this season complaining about umpiring issues.

It is also alleged Akermanis sent videos of himself critiquing matches in which he highlighted umpiring decisions he felt were wrong.

AFL North East Border doesn’t have the power to launch investigations and referred the matter to the O and M.

Mr O’Donohue said Akermanis and the Hoppers were warned about the alleged behaviour.

Mark Bywater

Mark Bywater

“From an employee point of view we’ve got to provide a safe workplace,” Mr O’Donohue said.

“Cyber bullying is probably one of the most serious offences in the game.

“It is not spur of the moment.”

Junior players and a coach in the Goulburn Valley area have been suspended under the policy for six weeks and six months respectively.

“There have been issues in our region that haven’t gone too far and been resolved before final investigation stage,” Mr O’Donohue said.

“It has been happening long enough that a warning was issued that it needed to stop.

“But it hasn’t.”

Akermanis has been re-appointed Hoppers’ coach for another season.

He will coach the Hoppers in the final round of the season today against Myrtleford after retiring as a player last week.

Akermanis couldn’t be contacted for comment.

Hoppers president Mark Cronin said he couldn’t comment because the matter would be the subject of an investigation.