Tribunals an ‘important’ part of the game

TRIBUNALS do not receive much public attention in local football, according to Gippsland Football League general manager Chris Soumilas.

“Yet every league has them and as with the Australian Football League they are an important part of the game,” Soumilas said.

Soumilas said the process for reporting someone is formal and similar to the AFL system.

“Around six or seven independent people sit on the tribunal, and one of those people we share with the Mid Gippsland Football League,” Soumilas said.

“There is a secretary and a chairman and when someone is reported, the umpires lodge it with us on the Saturday.

“Four copies of the report are made and the original comes to the general manager of the league, with the others being kept by the players involved and their clubs.”

The offending player is then given until the morning after the game to decide whether they would like to contest the charge, according to Soumilas.

However, he said the aggrieved player and their club have the ability to send the matter to the tribunal, even if the offending player wished to accept a penalty.

Gippsland League tribunal secretary Steve Sykes said now players are more inclined to accept a penalty rather than challenge a report.

“Now we really don’t hear that many cases each year,” Sykes said.

“This year we’ve had two already, but over the last few year’s it’s been between three and 11 hearings.”

If a charge is to be heard, Soumilas said the secretary will organise three people to sit on the Wednesday night, being the chairman and two others.

“The umpire presents their evidence, the aggrieved player is asked questions and then the charged player is questioned,” Soumilas said.

“The tribunal assesses all the evidence and makes its decision.”

When putting together a tribunal, Sykes said he considered the fixture to see what teams are coming up against the charged player’s team.

He said he generally avoided putting people who are involved with a soon to be opposition club on the panel, because of potential bias.

“One of the most important things is to keep conflict of interest out of it,” Sykes said.

In Sykes’ experience, the most common charge has been striking.

“Over the past eight or nine years that hasn’t changed too much,” Sykes said.

“But what has changed is the players accepting penalties offered by the tribunal in advance.”

Sykes said he had been involved in football for more than 30 years and he joined the Gippsland League tribunal through a general interest in the sport.