Sydney star Lance Franklin’s move to wipe down a football with a cloth in Friday night’s loss to Adelaide was rightly stopped, the AFL has confirmed.
When taking a shot for goal in Sydney’s 10-point defeat on a wet night, Franklin was handed a cloth by a trainer.
He used the cloth on the football before being told to stop by an umpire, which he did immediately. Because he did so, he was allowed to take his kick.
The rare incident raised eyebrows among some footy fans and former Port Adelaide champion Warren Tredrea posted about it on Twitter, writing that players are “able to use own guernsey but not a towel”.
Fielding questions from The New Daily about the incident, an AFL spokesperson said: “Players aren’t allowed to use anything from a trainer/club official to dry the ball, so hence the umpire told him he had to stop, which he then did so.
“As he stopped immediately when reminded that a towel/cloth can’t be used on the ball, he was able to take his kick.
“An umpire will tell a player to stop if they seek to wipe the ball, and then play continues.”
Despite the incident, the AFL said they were convinced the incident was not “something where a player is deliberately trying to alter the behaviour of the ball”.
They added: “A player trying to dry the ball is something that maybe comes up once a year and the umpires just remind players at the time to stop and continue the game.
“There’s six balls in operation for a game at any one time and they constantly change over after goals/points, so the umpires just manage this on the occasions it comes up.”
Franklin kicked 1.3 from 11 disposals and six marks against the Crows.
As a result, he lost his lead in the race for the 2018 Coleman Medal, with North Melbourne’s Ben Brown leading the way with 19 majors this season.
Franklin, who has booted 878 goals in his glittering AFL career, has 18 for the year so far.