AFL’s Senior Umpire Backs Brownlow Medal Voting Amid Finals

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Showing unfaltering support for the Brownlow Medal voting process ahead of his 10th consecutive season finale, Matt Stevic, the most senior umpire in the Australian Football League (AFL) grand final, asserts that the voting responsibility should remain with the umpires to maintain the award’s distinctive character.

Renowned for his service in 472 games, Stevic has been chosen as one of the four field officials for the Saturday event, in the company of fellow veteran Simon Meredith and debutants Robert Findlay and Hayden Gavine. His endorsement of the voting process springs after recent criticism was aimed at the umpires in wake of surprisingly bagging his second medal by Brisbane midfielder Lachie Neale.

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Stevic fiercely stated: “Despite being an umpire for 20 years, witnessing annual debates around this subject, I choose not to pay much attention to these discussions. We vest our energy in discussing, debating, and finalizing the top three players each week. We do this thoroughly, without any bias.”

He added: “We, the umpires, enjoy a unique viewpoint right from the battleground. It may not be overly pleasant most times, but it offers insights like none other, especially around player impact. This gives the award its unique definition, presented exclusively by us.”

Despite being a seasoned participant, the lead-up to the decider does bring its own share of adrenaline, confessed Stevic, who officiated the Brisbane vs Carlton semifinal last week.

Laura Kane, AFL football boss, refuted accusations that the umpires were coached to go soft during the finals. She clarified: “Variances in game momentum, scoring advantages, and situational changes are under coach’s purview. As umpires, we treat every minute of the game equally.”

The recently introduced four-umpire system considerably eased the umpires’ workload and accelerated the grooming of the next wave of officials, added Kane. Though women didn’t make the teams for the grand final this year, Stevic believes the tides are on the verge of turning. He hailed Chelsea Roffey, the only woman to officiate a grand final, and appreciated a 30% female representation in the AFLW umpiring crew.

Stevic maintained: “With both young girls and women demonstrating their proficiency, I am confident they will create their own place in the future.”

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