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Eddie McGuire calls for a RADICAL overhaul of the AFL’s ‘useless’ MRO and tribunal system

Eddie McGuire calls for a RADICAL overhaul of the AFL’s ‘useless’ MRO and tribunal system after Willie Rioli bump decision dismayed fans and experts

  • West Coast forward Willie Rioli made contact with the head of Matthew Rowell
  • Many AFL experts felt the Eagles star would be banned for a few games
  • Rioli’s legal team successfully argued on-field bump was not ‘unreasonable’
  • Decision by the tribunal baffled many, including AFL identity Eddie McGuire

AFL identity Eddie McGuire believes the game’s tribunal system is ‘useless’ and needs to be urgently overhauled.

The former Collingwood president expressed his frustration on Channel Nine’s Footy Classified on Thursday night after West Coast Eagles forward Willie Rioli saw his one-match ban for rough conduct overturned.

Rioli clattered into the head of Gold Coast Suns midfielder Matthew Rowell in an ugly incident last Sunday at Optus Stadium, with many AFL commentators expecting the returning Eagles star to be suspended for a few rounds.

An appeal hearing on Tuesday night saw the tribunal conclude Rioli didn’t act ‘unreasonably’ and the ban was lifted.

The decision stunned McGuire, who stated the ‘archaic’ AFL needs to ‘completely change the whole system’.

‘It’s simple to say at the moment the AFL is trying to do all things for all people – and they’ve ended up doing nothing for nobody,’ he said.

AFL identity Eddie McGuire believes the game’s tribunal system is ‘useless’ and needs to be urgently overhauled

Returning Eagles forward Willie Rioli was involved in an ugly collision (pictured) with Gold Coast's Matthew Rowell

Returning Eagles forward Willie Rioli was involved in an ugly collision (pictured) with Gold Coast’s Matthew Rowell

Rioli barrelled into Rowell hip-first in the third quarter of the Eagles' clash against the Suns on Sunday at Optus Stadium in Perth

 Rioli barrelled into Rowell hip-first in the third quarter of the Eagles’ clash against the Suns on Sunday at Optus Stadium in Perth

‘An MRO (match review officer) verdict should be made on the day. You watch the game, you do the review. They’ve got to have a same-day result.’

Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd fears players from all 18 clubs won’t trust the tribunal system after the Rioli outcome, while former Fremantle and St Kilda coach Ross Lyon called for those assessing incidents to be employed full-time.

‘They’re part-timers,’ he said. ‘Clubs are spending $100 million turnover to win games of AFL football – and we’ve got three part-timers making decisions on full-time, professional athletes.

‘It (the game) has gone past that.’

On Wednesday, the AFL confirmed it had decided against appealing Rioli’s tribunal verdict – even though they didn’t agree with the clearing of the West Coast forward.

West Coast’s overturning of the rough conduct charge is the first tribunal controversy of the season and there were calls for the league to appeal it.

But there was significant doubt as to whether an appeal would be successful.

‘The AFL closely monitored the hearing and scrutinised the reasons of the tribunal in this decision,’ the league said in a statement.

‘While the AFL does not agree with the outcome of the hearing, it accepts the decision and confirms it will not appeal.

‘Due to the nature of the relevant appeal grounds available to it, the AFL considers that the prospects of a successful appeal in the circumstances are low.

‘The AFL considers that bringing an appeal without reasonable prospects of success is not an appropriate course for it to take.’

The AFL added it remains ‘strongly committed’ to reducing head-high contact in the game.

Despite the head-high contact, the AFL tribunal on Tuesday overturned an initial one-match suspension handed to Rioli

Despite the head-high contact, the AFL tribunal on Tuesday overturned an initial one-match suspension handed to Rioli 

Willie Rioli is now free to line up for the Eagles this Sunday against the Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium

Willie Rioli is now free to line up for the Eagles this Sunday against the Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium

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