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Fan censorship risks ‘sanitising this game to an inch of its life’: David ‘Ox’ Schwarz

The AFL is cracking down on fans who hurl abuse at the umpires in an attempt to civilise crowds by censoring what they say.

A Carlton fan was booted from Marvel Stadium over the weekend after he called umpire Matthew Nichols a “bald-headed flog”.

“Nicholls stopped and pointed at the fan who said what he said,” Boundary rider Jacqui Reed said on 3AW Footy.

“Fans were standing around in shock as security converged to make sure that fan exited Marvel Stadium.”

“Officials are now on high alert.”

Saturday’s incident follows on from a Richmond fan who was banned for three games for reportedly calling an umpire a “green maggot”.

The AFL is reportedly staffing stadiums with clandestine fan watchers who identify footy fans who abuse umpires and turf them out.

Filling in for Mark Allen, Drive co-host Matt Granland says the AFL’s heavy-handed handling of mouthy fans is an attempt to deal with a much bigger problem.

“They’ve got a major issue, the AFL, with retaining umpires, people don’t want to umpire at the lower levels and they’re really concerned about abuse,” he said.

Former AFL star David ‘Ox’ Schwarz says an education campaign is required to change a crowd behaviour which has broadly been accepted for decades.

“For people that are rocking up to the game who have been calling the umpire a maggot for 30 years, for that behaviour to stop straight away is never going to happen unless they are informed,

“We see blanket marketing from big companies, whether it’s gambling, TAC seatbelts, whatever it is – the AFL need to get a campaign and put it on the networks so that people know their rights and responsibilities when going to the footy,

“They need to spend some money and educate fans on what they can and can’t say.”

The Ox says fans shouldn’t get personal with umpires pointing out the line which shouldn’t be crossed.

But does “bald-headed flog” cross that line?

“I don’t want to sanitise this game to an inch of its life where we’re sitting there doing golf claps and not allowed to talk, you’re going to take away the passion and the beauty of the sport,” he said.

Click PLAY to hear more from The Ox and Matt Granland: