Steve Hocking, the AFL’s General Manager of Football Operations, has given some insight into how the league’s administration is battling anti-social supporter activity.
There have been numerous instances in season 2019 where crowd violence has erupted while abuse towards players, umpires and fellow fans is seemingly a constant.
Hocking, who understands this type of behaviour is unruly, has made it clear that work is being undertaken to eradicate it.
“To explain to people, the football operations team looks after all processes on-field,” Hocking said on SEN Breakfast.
“Then, inside the stadium once its off-field, that becomes an integrity team that actually looks after that.
“That’s a robust group, they’re doing a lot of work. We certainly acknowledge that what we’d like to have inside the stadiums is an inclusive environment.
“One of the great things about our game is we can definitely push social change and we’ve been a leader in that space.
“This is just another area we’ve got to make sure we’re considerate."
Hocking has promoted fans to vocally support their respective clubs but warned them to do so in a respectful manner.
“Go your hardest, support your team and get emotional about it, we all feel that way about football, its one of the great things about our game,” he added.
“I think we should embrace that.
“But I think each and every one of us understands there’s a point where it’s a step too far. If we can, just pull ourselves back from that, but otherwise enjoy your time at the footy and make sure that everybody feels included and safe.”
Hocking also insists that he personally checks on crowd behaviour in a bid to assist with the overriding problem.
“I often, in this role, don’t go and sit in a corporate suite,” he said.
“I’ve got the opportunity to do that nine games a weekend. It’s getting a little harder for me to do that now, obviously because within the role I get recognised a little bit more, but that doesn’t put me off.
“I go and immerse myself in amongst the crowd and around the stadium to get a feel and make sure that within this role, I remain in touch with what are the key things.”
Listen to Hocking’s chat on SEN Breakfast below: