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AFL can't ignore Eagles free kicks says former umpires boss


Since 2011, West Coast has won 60 of 72 free kick counts when playing against travelling teams at home.

They’re numbers that former AFL umpires boss Peter Schwab says we can’t ignore.


“We can’t put our head in the sand and say that this is not real,” he told SEN’s Whateley.

“Research would say it is. It’s as simple as that, really.

“I often put my head in the sand saying ‘it doesn’t really occur’, but the weight of research will tell you that it is a phenomena and it does occur.

“We shouldn’t shy away from that, that’s just like most human research.

“It doesn’t mean umpires are cheating, it doesn’t mean they’re unfair, it doesn’t mean they’re incompetent at all. It just means they’re in a very highly stressed environment when that occurs.”

The Saints were the latest victims to concede a skewed free kick count against the Eagles, as they coughed up 25 free kicks to West Coast’s 12.

St Kilda coach Alan Richardson admitted he was scratching his head by the discrepancy.

“I got really frustrated on the weekend and it’s the non-calls,” he told Fox Footy.

“That’s the point I’m trying to make about this ‘noise’, the influence it has on the umpires.

“It’s massive, the noise. I think it has potentially gone to a new level at this stadium, it was off the charts.”

SEN’s Whateley with Gerard Whateley can be heard Monday-Thursday 9-12am, and you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here

However, Schwab explained how it’s commonplace to see home sides gain an advantage with umpires across the sporting world.

“It’s not uncommon to any sport around the world,” he said.

“I think it’s been studied in most sports to try and come up with a rationale as to why it would occur, but vocal, one sided home crowds certainly have an influence when it comes to refereeing or umpiring.

“I don’t think that you can shy away and say that that’s not true.”

Schwab also gave his insights on how the mentality of umpires change when officiating a game in Western Australia.

“I’d say there’s a lift in arousal and anxiety levels regardless of the professionalism of the officials,” he said.

“When you’re in that sort of environment, I think very simplistically, you’re pretty sure the free kicks there and then the roar of the West Coast Eagles crowd for it probably confirms it – affirmation, as we talk about.”

Listen to Peter Schwab's chat with Gerard Whateley on SEN's Whateley in the player below

Peter Schwab West Coast Eagles Whateley

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