I followed the live feeds of the Tribunal last night regarding Bacher Houli's hit on Jed Lamb. We all know that Houli has had an unblemished playing career and by fronting the MRP this would be taken into consideration, and given the outcome, it did.
What was confusing was that a media person, and a high profile one at that, and the current PM were used as characters witnesses for Houli. I am sure that he gives up his time and efforts to the community and all that is well and good, but what has that got to do with an incident that he perpetrated on the footy field?
This was not a criminal or a civil court case, but an act of aggression on the field of a sporting match. It has nothing whatsoever to do with his admirable work in the community. I found it and so do a lot of other footy fans out there who are not Carlton supporters, quite disarming that his community work was taken into account.
Jed Lamb will not be able to play for at least another two weeks, neither will Houli and it seems a tad superficial the suspension that Houli has received, given that Lamb was not at fault, Houli was. The Tribunal gave a very clear sign that it is not really a case of what happened to be taken into account, but who you know.
The AFL has stated all along that it wants to come down hard on any infringements to the head, the Tribunal don't see it that way. The issue will now be that supporters will turn on Houli and boo him and Waleed Aly and Malcolm Turnbull will now come out and say that supporters are being racist. Houli will be booed. It will not be for anything other than a decision made by the Tribunal to suspend him for a paltry two weeks.
While his exemplary playing career has been taken into account, it should not be to the detriment of the spirit of the game and how it has affected not only Carlton, but more importantly, Jed Lamb. I was sure that Houli would be out for a minimum of four weeks, down to three due to his good behaviour, but not two.
The Tribunal has sent a clear message and it is not one that sits well with supporters. It has placed the whole notion that any hit to the head will be taken extremely seriously, but it is who you know that can change the outcome. They have actually brought the game into disrepute and one that will see it escalate because now Houli will be booed for this and nothing else. This is not what a player who has had a great career should be now viewed, but he will, thanks to the Tribunal and his "contacts". Not a really great look for the AFL or The Tribunal.
Update: The AFL is appealing this and so they should as they have deemed the suspension not substantial enough for the impact on Lamb. Good decision there.