New AFL football boss Laura Kane will prioritise the league’s implementation of improved technology as she seeks to improve match officiating.
The league has been trialling ball-tracking hardware in the hope it will eventually assist goal umpires and score review operators to make more accurate calls on game day.
But there is still no timeline on when it will be implemented at the top level, with further trials set to be conducted in lower-level competitions.
“We’re looking into what other sports around the world are doing … and how we can overlay things like ball-tracking technology to make officiating, particularly on the goal-line, as good as possible, as clear as possible and have the best outcomes as often as possible,” Kane said.
The planned improvements are of little comfort to Adelaide, who missed out on a finals berth this season after a controversial loss to Sydney in round 23.
The Crows’ Ben Keays was denied what could have been the match-winning goal when his shot was deemed to have hit the post.
Umpires did not call for a review and replays later showed Keays’ shot should have been called a goal.
The AFL has since declared an extra supervisor will work in the league’s video review centre, known as ARC, throughout the finals series.
“We’ll have three people assigned to every game to effectively intervene quicker and avoid what happened in the Adelaide game a couple of weeks ago,” Kane said.
Kane also threw her support behind the league’s umpires.
“It’s a hard game to umpire,” she said.
“It’s an oval ground, it’s an oval ball, it’s unpredictable.
“Our umpires do a terrific job and we’ll continue to support them in that.”
Kane, a qualified lawyer who represented victims in the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child abuse, had multiple senior roles at North Melbourne before she joined the AFL in September 2021 as its competition manager.
She is prepared for the public nature of her new role and any criticism of her decisions from fans, media and clubs.
“I understand it’s passion. People love our game and they feel so much a part of it that they want to give their feedback,” she said.
“That’s fans, that’s media, that’s our clubs – coaches, players, staff – and I love that they’re passionate. That’s all part of it.
“We have to listen, we have to learn from what they’re telling us, and if it’s adding a score review operator to make sure we provide certainty, that’s what we want to do.
“I’m up for the challenge.”
(Australian Associated Press)