Australian Football League (AFL) chiefs have apologised after increasingly draconian security measures left fans feeling they were punished for being passionate at games.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan organised a press conference to speak directly to supporters after meeting with officials at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium to discuss security protocols.
The 53,500-capacity arena, which is home to five AFL teams and more commonly known as Docklands, toughened up its security presence earlier this season after a series of violent incidents.
Reports suggest fans were told by security staff to “calm down” and be less noisy during a game, while Marvel Stadium stewards have worn bibs emblazoned with ‘behavioural awareness officer’.
“I apologise if the people who go along to the football to have a day out feel that they haven’t been able to do that,” McLachlan said at a news conference.
“It’s devastating to think that our fans think something has changed to limit their enjoyment at the footy.”
McLachlan met Marvel Stadium chief executive Michael Green on Monday, and said discussions would continue about the security staff.
The Age reports that Marvel Stadium security conduct three aisle walks per quarter to ensure fans are behaving appropriately and safely.
“My personal view is they’re not right and they should go,” he said. “That’s part of the discussions we can have with our venues.”
Marvel Stadium hosts games for Essendon, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and Carlton. It is also home to Big Bash League cricket games and the A-League’s Melbourne Victory.