The AFL Players’ Association has called for a review of LED fencing at all venues, labelling Saturday’s injury to North Melbourne captain Jack Ziebell at GMHBA Stadium as "unacceptable".
For the second time this season a game was marred by damage caused by signage on the boundary at a venue. Ziebell was forced from the ground for eight minutes during the third quarter of his side’s loss to Geelong after both his knees were cut when he made contact with the signage after chasing a ball to the boundary line in a contest with Cat Jake Kolodjashnij.
It followed the round three game at Perth’s Optus Stadium during which Geelong pair Mark Blicavs and Zach Tuohy both suffered cuts after making contact with similar LED lights on the boundary at the new venue.
Blicavs needed 14 stitches in his hand and led stadium management to cover the signage with plastic coating to protect players.
AFLPA general manager of legal and player affairs James Gallagher said the AFL needed to act urgently following the latest incident.
“This is clearly an unacceptable outcome, particularly given the incidents at Optus Stadium from earlier in the season” Gallagher said in a statement given to The Age on Sunday.
“We’ve spoken to the AFL this morning and urged it to conduct a review of all LED fencing at AFL venues as a matter of priority. A safe working environment for all players is an absolute non-negotiable for our members and we trust the AFL and venues will take the necessary measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Fuming North coach Brad Scott slammed the AFL after the game on Saturday.
"We would get fined if we did something incompetent but the AFL won't fine themselves I'm sure," Scott said.
"They certainly won't give us any money back."
Asked if he thought he’d need to raise the matter with the league or players union, Scott said he didn’t think that would be necessary.
"I don't think I'll have to personally. I think the powers that be will do that," Scott said.
Ziebell outlined what happened to him on ABC Radio after the game.
"I actually went into the fence, unfortunately, and it sliced me open quite nice, to tell you the truth," Ziebell said.
"I thought they fixed that problem but I had to spend about eight or 10 minutes off the ground as well. So, not ideal but it shouldn't be too bad, I don't think."
It’s understood the signage is maintained by the AFL and Geelong football club pursuant to their venue hire agreement. Stadium management has raised the issue for review, with a meeting set to occure this week between the league and management this week to ensure the problem is rectified.
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