AFL Brownlow Medal bets: Sam Landsberger on Tim Costello’s phone claims

There should be no witch hunt to find umpires who violated Brownlow Medal phone logs, writes Sam Landsberger. It’s time for the AFL to face reality instead.

Cell phones and athletic integrity don’t mix – just ask Emily Smith.

Cricket Australia suspended the WBBL player for 12 months (nine suspended) after the prankster posted the Hobart Hurricanes line-up on Instagram about an hour before it was due to be released.

The 2019 match was a blur and CA acknowledged they showed no intention of violating the anti-corruption code. But the crime was serious because of potential betting implications.

So why would AFL umpires tap their phones to look at stats before voting on the Brownlow medal when they know for sure they’re not allowed to?

Unfortunately, the answer is written in swear words in the Instagram inboxes of countless players every week – gambling.

“Not a single AFL player gives a flying F— how we cost you a $100 multi it’s (a) a $5 bet you idiot,” ex-Brisbane Lion Mitch Robinson once tweeted.

“Death Threats & ‘I Hope You Make Your ACL Next Game’.”

Port Adelaide’s Zak Butters once received: “Listen you little cunt, you know what I’ve lost in you, you fucking useless bastard”.

Western bulldog Josh Bruce tweeted: “At least 30 abusive messages a week, mostly gambling related. The “Clear All” button works well without reading – a serious issue that would already affect younger players/those with mental health and confidence issues.”

AFL umpires don’t want to misunderstand the votes for the Brownlow Medal, and if you’ve seen Channel 7’s coverage of last year’s count, then with good reason.

Every few minutes there seemed to be crosses to bookies announcing odds for the next round.

Who will cast three votes in Round 7? What are the odds for Patrick Cripps after seven votes cast in the first three games?

Players can even bet on apps during the count when a phone call is usually required to play at a live event in Australia.

It doesn’t feel right and you have to sympathize with the referees.

It seems odd that at that age they wouldn’t be getting the stats anyway. It’s not like Norm Smith Medal voters are being denied access.

Anti-gambling activist Tim Costello’s claims that umpires check stats before casting their votes stack with information given to the Herald Sun by AFL umpire sources last year.

It was thought umpires would open the AFL app in the privacy of their dressing rooms to take a look at the numbers.

The AFL will reference its voting procedure for the Brownlow Medal, which says cellphones cannot be accessed by umpires until after votes are cast.

But every workplace would have policies and procedures that aren’t always followed.

The AFL is now poised to crack down on phone confinement in 2023, and with good reason.

But the reality is, if referees are also denied stats if some have previously consulted the numbers, then the line-up of this year’s 3-2-1 could spit out some surprising results.

This shouldn’t be a witch hunt to find referees who have broken protocols.

Instead, it should be a moment for the AFL to look in the mirror and reassess the purity of the Brownlow Medal.

Originally posted as Brownlow medal bets: AFL must look in mirror after umpire claims over phone AFL Brownlow Medal bets: Sam Landsberger on Tim Costello’s phone claims

Ryan Sederquist

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