RIVERINA Umpires Association boss Ryan Dedini says the suspension to Greater Western Sydney Giants star Toby Greene for making contact with an umpire sends a strong message to grassroots football to respect officials.
Dedini, who umpired his 250th senior game during last year's AFL Riverina Championship, said such instances in local football are very rare, but it's a reminder players acting in an aggressive manner toward on-field officials is a no-go zone.
Greene was banned for three matches for making contact with umpire Matt Stevic during the Giants' thrilling one-point finals win over Sydney on Saturday.
It means the star small forward won't play again this year, even should the Giants progress all the way to the grand final.
However, the AFL isn't content with the verdict and announced on Wednesday they would appeal the decision after initially recommending a six week ban.
"It's good to see they're backing the umpires and sending a message, because you certainly don't want people playing in the grassroots thinking that's OK," Dedini said.
"It's not that common in local footy, everyone knows each other and it's about building that level of respect.
"My opinion is they were looking to suspend him longer, but a three week ban in finals is fair."
Dedini said building relationships with players and trying to make decisions as uniform as possible across the umpiring squad was key.
"At the RUA and as umpire's coach as well, we try and do that as well as we can, but in our sport there's a lot of grey area with some decisions and open to personal interpretation," he said.
"If you build a rapport with players you generate mutual respect, and in local footy it's generally pretty good."
Dedini said umpires are just as keen as everyone else in the football community for finals to be played, with AFL Riverina extending their season deadline to October 3 on Wednesday.
"We're just like the players, we're still training and hoping to put our case forward to umpire in another grand final," he said.
"It'd be great if we could somehow get a conclusion to the season."
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