AFL Excitement and Controversies Over the Years

AFL Excitement and Controversies Over the Years

Aussie rules football is not just the most popular, and most-watched, sport in Australia today, it is also spreading across the world.

You might be surprised that there are now 13 affiliated national governing bodies in countries such as Canada, Japan, and South Africa. AFL continues to grow and is inclusive to amateurs and professionals. Aussie rules can be played by men, women, and children.

During its 125 year history, the game has brought many moments of excitement, and thrilling events. Some games stick in the memory of fans for a lifetime, such as a winning play in the dying seconds. Or snatching victory when there seemed no hope.

Yet, it’s not always fun and games in AFL. There have been great moments of controversy and shocks too. Here are some recent, and not-so-recent moments that you may remember, or prefer to forget.

The pandemic caused chaos

To be fair, everyone probably wants to forget the pandemic and move on with their lives. Unfortunately, Covid appears to be something that everyone will be affected by for the foreseeable future.

It wreaked havoc on many industries, and the sporting world was no different. The 2020 season was in absolute chaos as games were postponed or cancelled.

According to Fox Sports, Covid hit the players’ salaries also, with only two players earning more than $1 million in 2020.

Nevertheless, despite the chaos that Covid brought, it was unavoidable. Some of the moments further down the list were.

Biggest bans in the game

In soccer, the regular ban for receiving a red card is a 3 match suspension. Aussie rules players have a slightly tougher reputation than some soccer players, and some of their actions would be better placed in the boxing ring.

Alastair Lynch and Greg Williams both received extended game bans for their actions in two separate games.

Lynch was involved in a brawl with Darryl Wakelin in a 2004 match. The player received a game ban for his role in the punch-up.

Greg Williams didn’t go for another player when he saw red though. He chose to let his sentiments be known by going for the umpire. In 1997, Williams disagreed with an umpire’s decision and gave him a slight push in the back. Although hardly violent, he was given a then-record breaking 9 game ban.

Both Williams and Lynch retired after these incidents and the bans were never carried out.

Fantasy football was invented

In happier news, fantasy football made its way into AFL. One of the most stimulating things for fans of the game is that they can get involved in fantasy AFL.

There are plenty of guides to assist newbies to fantasy AFL with advice on which popular players to avoid, and who to draft into your team.

Alcohol and substance abuse

On a less happy note, there have been instances of alcohol and substance abuse among some players. There have even been concerns of a drug culture in some areas of the game, with the West Coast Eagles, in particular, becoming the focus of this issue.

Ben Cousins was handed an indefinite suspension by the Eagles after they discovered he had been on a three-day bender. His out-of-control partying ended with him being found in a street in a highly distressed state.

In 2007, a former Eagles star was found dead in his house, from an overdose. Chris Mainwaring was found dead from a seizure likely brought on by a huge amount of cocaine abuse.

The biggest game and most-watched tv show

Despite these controversies, the game is largely filled with pros who just want to play. And the fans are happy to watch.

Last year’s AFL Grand Final drew in 3.9 million viewers across the country. This made it not only the biggest sporting event but the most-watched TV show in the entire year.

Gambling illegally on games

If you wanted to place a bet in Australia you can do so at a legal retail betting shop. However, online casinos and sports betting rules are a bit different.

In 2001, an act was brought in to restrict certain online gambling activities. These include casino games and sports betting. Nevertheless, you can use an online casino to play slots, poker, or bet on the AFL, as long as it is based off-shore.

AFL players though can’t enjoy quite so much freedom. As with most sports, players are not allowed to bet on themselves or their games. Some sports ban players from gambling on any game in that league, not only the ones they are involved in.

Some players have ignored this though, and of course, had their moment of infamy in the media.

Bans for gambling

It is true that sports betting could make Aussie rules a global game. The gambling industry is huge and only growing as online casinos spread, and laws are relaxed.

Some AFL players though would be advised to steer clear of this activity completely.

Gold Coast player Rhys Nicholls got himself suspended for a couple of games for making ten bets on an account in his name. These bets were for small amounts and the entire total of the bets was just $256.

Yet he bet on his own games as well as others. This resulted in a hefty $5000 fine as well as a suspension.

Allen Christensen has also been troubled with gambling problems and has spoken out about what has been a lifetime addiction. Some people in the game believe gambling is deep-rooted, as has been seen in other sports.

Sometimes it’s the fans that are the problem

While on occasions you will see a punch up on the pitch, sometimes it’s in the stands too.

One fan of Collingwood Football Club decided to lash out and has had to pay the price. Craig Clark started a fight with two other fans and ended up with a 5 year AFL ban.


While there have been many controversial moments in the AFL, there have been much happier and more exciting ones. There have been amazing comebacks, and the viewing figures seem to be getting bigger.

Fans can enjoy betting on AFL, and they can take part in fantasy leagues too. No doubt there will be some more controversial moments to come, but many good memories will be created too.


Please don’t forget to read – How Fast Can You Earn Money From An Online Casino?


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