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Legend Matthews blasts AFL bosses

3 minute read

AFL icon Leigh Matthews has blasted the league's handling of the high contact rule, saying he feels sick about the treatment of Collingwood's Jack Ginnivan.

JACK GINNIVAN. Picture: Dylan Burns/via Getty Images

Fired-up AFL legend Leigh Matthews has taken aim at league bosses in an explosive spray, saying he feels sick about the treatment of Collingwood's Jack Ginnivan.

A four-time AFL premiership coach who was also rated as the greatest player of the 20th century, Matthews claims the game's reputation is being tarnished by regular rule changes.

The iconic Hawthorn player said he "couldn't sleep" after Sunday's game between the Magpies and Essendon because of the controversial umpiring call to not pay a free kick to Ginnivan in the first quarter.

Matthews had AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and chairman Richard Goyder in his sights, not the umpires, during an impassioned segment on 3AW.

"I didn't blame (umpire Matt) Stevic, I thought to myself, 'what are they doing to our game'?," Matthews told Sportsday on Tuesday night.

"And when I say 'they', I mean Richard Goyder and the (AFL) commission, who are the only body who can actually change rules and Gillon McLachlan and his cohort of advisers that are making the game easier for the tackler and harder for the bloke with the ball.

"That's the fabric of our game.

"I was (everything) from disillusioned to disappointed to angry to shocked, it got my blood boiling and frankly two days later it still does.

"I swore when I stopped coaching (the Brisbane Lions) 14 years ago I'm not going to let footy get to me, don't let the emotion get too much, but I love the game."

After heated debated following the incident in Sunday's thriller at the MCG, the AFL on Monday clarified Essendon's Mason Redman should have been penalised for his tackle on Ginnivan.

The AFL said Stevic initially made the right call, but a free kick should have been paid against Redman after he continued to hold Ginnivan around the neck.

"Ginnivan is responsible for the initial high contact however Redman then continues with the tackle in an unreasonable manner, holding Ginnivan around the neck," the AFL statement read.

The controversy came just days after the AFL attempted to clear up its high contact rule, following fierce debate around whether Ginnivan was being umpired differently to other players.

Before round 19, the league said players would not be given free kicks when they ducked or shrugged in tackles to create high contact.

Ginnivan, who is in his second AFL season, has been an unwitting lightning rod this season for criticism of players who attempt to draw free kicks.

The 19-year-old has seen the funny side of the issue, changing his Instagram profile picture to a photo of Redman's arm around his neck.

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