The AFL has defended itself against accusations it has "gone soft" on Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson over his abuse of an official at his son's junior football match last weekend.
Clarkson has since apologised for telling a 19-year-old umpire's advisor to "F-off" while acting as a runner during the under-9s game.
Given the League's hardline stance on respect for umpires and officials, many felt Clarkson would be heavily penalised. Instead, both the AFL and his club have been quick to accept his apology and declare the matter closed, surprising those who have seen players hit with heavy fines and warnings over mildly critical tweets.
But the AFL said today that the situations were completely different.
"No, no, no, no, no – there's no hypocrisy in this at all," said an AFL spokesman.
"All our coaches and players have a responsibility to the game, and to the officials who run it. Clarko is a good bloke, and he knows that. He was just frustrated that his team wasn't structured correctly and the players weren't following the right processes.
"In layman's terms, the players were running around headless and both teams were kicking in the same direction. He said it reminded him a bit of watching Melbourne play. That made it very hard for Clarko's boys to hit up targets and spread from the contest. He'd been drilling these things into them all year, and I think when his players fail to execute properly, well, you can understand his frustration."
The spokesman said the League in no way condoned Clarkson's actions, but had good reasons for taking no further action.
"Look, the bottom line is we're shit scared of Clarko. He's a very scary, angry little man. Did you see what he did to that plaster wall in the coach's box? That could have been my face! So I think we'll happily settle for an apology and then we can all move on."