My thoughts on Houli’s case and the media

When I heard character references were provided on Bachar Houli’s knocking on Jed Lamb at Tribunal, I was surprised. Feeling like ‘what the hell going on with the judgement?’


And these documents seemed to reduce his penalty into two weeks.


I saw the incident on the video and my thought came up that Houli should be banned for at least four matches. And he didn’t come over to Lamb after the knock out.


Such decision is controversial and I find the organisation dysfunctional.


When the television host Waleed Aly revealed that he was asked to be a character reference in the interview with a Melbourne radio station on Wednesday morning (I read the online article later), I thought Houli tried to get out of jail free card.


I mean Houli should accept the rules at AFL. If not, he can’t play AFL footy.


Instead, he should have asked any advice from his teammates and coaches, Richmond Football Club and his management.


On the social media, some people are urging that the Tribunal is supposed to be independent. They argue that the Tribunal Panel breached the rules and should be sacked and that AFL should recall the organisation.


And some comments made on the media were disgusting. Some former footballers were surprised with AFL appealing the case. Sadly these commentators seem to have been told to make attractive headlines, so I suspect they have to go against their true feelings and hearts.


Maybe Tribunal / Match Review Panel need the opposition panel, like in politics. Then umpires can vote ‘the party’ to make the decision. But umpires need to improve their judging skills.


If character references are accepted at the professional issues, then we can ask our friends such references when applying for a job and employers are hardly able to see candidates’ work relevant skills.


They are my true thoughts and I am independent. I am happy we can express our thoughts at Footy Almanac. You guys are legends!



About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.


  1. I’m quite concerned how this may pan out. The tribunal handled it badly, but wit the AFL appealing the decision, a first it has the potential to end up really messy.

    Leigh Matthews has come out expressing concerns Bachar Houli may get the abusive treatment Adam Goodes copped. That’s one of the worst things i’ve seen in the sporting arena in my life time. Please don’t let’s see Bachar Houili put through this.


  2. Dave Brown says

    I’m really angry about all of this, Yoshi, but not an ounce of that is directed at Houli who was just unlucky he knocked the bloke out. Character references are fine insofar as they can demonstrate the likelihood of a player’s intent.

    The tribunal abdicated its responsibility to the game. The moment they determined that the hit was intentional they had to throw the book at him. Even if he is really unlucky, it would have been the appropriate outcome for a system which values outcome equally with intent. In not doing so, they have opened this racist crap that will bubble over for the foreseeable future as he is booed at every venue while Islamophobic jerks who have no interest in footy carry on about imagined privileged treatment. Maybe it’s worthwhile to have it out in the open, to be able to see our divisions, but I am furious that it will come about because of the cowardice of the tribunal.

  3. If they are going to apply the “good bloke” test – they need Luke Darcy on the Tribunal. He would empty the jails in a month.

  4. Very well put Yoshi. I hadn’t followed the case closely, and I didn’t hear about the character references until the Tribunal’s decision was announced. I still feel the references were for public consumption — as in “this is so unlike Bachar” — than to shorten the sentence. But I could be wrong. The whole thing has been terribly unfortunate. Bachar is integral to the Richmond rebound and the swipe was very much a “stop holding me everywhere I go” action. There’s no doubt that the blow connected with one of the knockout points on the head, and as unintentional as it may have been, laid Jeb out cold. This alone would be tormenting Bachar every moment of his day. He’s a role model for the Moslem community, particularly young Moslems, and has a football trophy named after him for which Melbourne Moslem Colleges play.

    As far as character references go, I’ll give him one — for what it’s worth. Of all the Richmond matches I’ve watched, I’ve never seen him play anything but the ball. What it’s brought out on the airwaves has been less than enlightening, other than provide a sociological profile of the vociferous nature of some footy fans & commentators.

    BTW, he couldn’t go over to Jeb because he was surrounded by demonstrating Carlton players. I noticed him in conversation with several Blues’ players at the end of the match as they walked off.

  5. This is a very interesting situation, Yoshi.

    The tribunal botched the penalty – pure and simple. They determined that Houli intentionally knocked a bloke out, and then gave him a two-week penalty. Ridiculous. They showed a complete disregard for their place in upholding the laws of the game. And allowing character references to influence the penalty? Just unbelievable.

    The AFL (Simon Lethlean) had no choice but to appeal the inadequate penalty imposed. At least this does show the doubters that the tribunal is a body independent of the AFL.

    But it’s not over yet.

  6. Joe De Petro says

    Well said, Yoshi. I am a Richmond supporter and therefore not independent like your good self. I would have liked him to get off on a technicality, the more spurious the better. However…..

    Houli “struck” an opponent.

    Since time immemorial, a strike has always been worth a four week holiday in this game. Intention has nothing to do with it, accidental has no bearing either. The people who sit on the AFL Tribunal are not clairvoyants, so why was they being asked to make value judgements about a player’s intent?

    We do not live in the old world of the VFL anymore. A worthy concession to modernism is the notion that a player’s clean record should count for something. Houli has been a ball player throughout his lengthy career, so a one-week discount for previous good behaviour should apply. Three weeks.

    Everything else about this case is noise. Let’s not be too precious here, clubs have been trying to get their players off at the tribunal with nonsensical arguments since the first tribunals convened. The Tribunal’s job is to listen politely to these spurious dissertations but it is still three weeks. Politics, religion and sex should carry no weight here.

    Why did they reduce it to two? Were they star-struck by the character referees?

    Ironically, Houli could have accepted a one week discount if he pleaded guilty to a charge of “intentional.” People who value their reputation do not find such an admission to be acceptable. Quite rightly. He did not strike with the intent to injure. Words hurt too.

    He simply struck an opponent. That is all this should be about.

  7. Rick Kane says

    “Umpire Matt Stevic was called upon to deliver evidence. He wasn’t the controlling umpire at the time and was about 35m away from the contest, with what he said was an unobstructed view. Stevic believed it should have been graded careless because Houli wasn’t looking at Lamb.”- from the AFL website

  8. Peter warrington says

    Yes intentional now means something different. The action was intentional. Well, mostly they are, unless you are Brandon ellis, and have no control, or Dusty, and inhabit a different matrix.

    Richmond characterised it as charged with intentional striking, with the point of contact the head. I think the comma is important. Others don’t.

    Reckless would be a much better description. And reckless could still be 4 Weeks if they wanted, if by accident a knockout occurs (Richmond said tonight you could do it 100 times before knocking someone out – granted you might do other damage, and I would prefer not to be Mr 100!)

    Now let’s hope my view that markov is twice the player is True. And every scragger gets penalised, because that’s the second Tiger gone this year in frustration to unfair attempts to stop our game plan.

  9. The Wrap says

    So if Umpire Stevic was in a position to see the blow, he would have been in a position to see Jeb holding Bachar. So why didn’t he pay the free? They paid a few of them on the day. Maybe, after a quarter time consultation, as a result? And while I agree with Richmond’s claim — that the swipe produced an unlucky outcome, it doesn’t change the fact that Lamb went down like he’d been poleaxed. It wasn’t pretty. As I mentioned in a previous Almanac blog, it’s the blow you’d love to land if you were set upon by thugs from behind in a boots & barstools brawl, but new could. Let’s hope we can fade to grey and move on from this one.

    And I’m with you on Markov PW. I’m Also a big fan. There next four weeks could be the break he needs to consolidate his position in the Richmond Starting XXII. And I’ll breathe a lot easier when Nick Vlastuin’s back in the team.

  10. There is one thing that really puzzles me about this. If I were on the Tribunal and a player issued references from Malcolm Turnbull and Waleed Aly, I’d quadruple the penalty!! Not halve it!!

  11. The Wrap says

    That’s the sort of bitter talk we’re worried about Dips.

  12. Loosen up Wrapster. The Tiges are a big show this year!

  13. The Wrap says

    You slander our prime minister and you slander The Nation. And as for Waleed, you take on one Tiger, you take us all on. You should know that by now Young Dips.

    Not too sure about Struggletown just yet. They’re missing the X Factor. And it’s not Dusty.

    Furthermore, as an investor, I’ll give you one that will bring a healthy return. EFC for a Top Four Finish. Don’t repeat that because I’ll deny I ever said it,

  14. Peter warrington says

    Not if we keep picking guys like Butler, Rioli and McIntosh who are butter fingered

    Also Stevic showed he doesn’t really understand careless v intentional. Lucky the MRP are experts. Not sure why he answered…

  15. EFC for a top 1 finish. nil satis nisi optimum

  16. The Wrap says

    Still looking for the next Royce Hart PW. No idea from whence he’s going tp come. Somehow we’re got to learn how to put games out of reach of the opposition. To lose to Sydney after a six goal lead in a low scoring game was worse than the early four close losses. It was watching a slow motion train wreck.

    True, McIntosh had a shocker against The Silvertails, but I don’t mind him. Those youngsters will improve. I hope. Our goal kicking has let us down badly.

    Check the Bombers’ run home. They should win seven of those. They bring their best game along to the Footscray & Crows matches – both at Ethelred Stadium – and they don’t lose a game until September. They’re going to be in the mix, at least.

    And if we can hold it together tonight, so will we.

  17. G’day and thanks for your comments folks!

    Glen – booing is not good, but in my opinion, Bachar can’t blame those who boo him because he tried to reduce his penalty by providing character references. He may think it was not intentional but ‘reckless’.

    Dave – I understand your point of view. But the Tribunal is supposed to be independent so the character references being asked to provide by the player who got involved in should have not been referred. Then in my opinion, not exaggerated (moderates) booing can’t be blamed. And Tribunal should take responsibilities on this issue.

    PB – you provided an interesting point of view. Everyone who has been said a good bloke can be released from penalty??

    Wrap – your observation on Houli and Richmond games is good to see things more. If he just goes for balls, then hearing from Richmond Football Club’s coaches and umpires should be referred to make the decision, rather than depending on character references. I hadn’t seen the point Houli couldn’t go to Lamb as he was surrounded with Carlton players.

    Smokie – it’s so disgusting that Tribunal disregard the rules of laws of the sport. Then I have to stress that Tribunal is so dysfunctional. They need to follow the rules and to take their responsibilities. Panel members should meet the criteria to judge the incidents. And I am happy AFL’s appeal was granted so Houli is missing four matches.

    Joe – I admire your reasonable views on the incident as a Richmond supporter. I totally agree with you. It’s sad the Tribunal has lack of skills and knowledge of rules. Your last line is exactly true.

    Rick – thanks for providing more information I didn’t see before writing this article. Then this view should have been referred.

    Peter W – then Richmond tried to prevent players from long punishments not to change their game plan? Haha Damien Hardwick should have Plan B or Plan C in any case players get injured or etc. I am sure he does, otherwise his club can’t be on top eight.

    Dips – jeopardising the judgement is terrible and I would hand five matches ban if the original incident is worth four weeks suspension and one for providing character references from such people, if I were a Tribunal panel member.



  18. Jeremy Cameron. He is the one. Sell the silverware.

  19. The Wrap says

    It was a good thread Yoshi. Thanks for getting it going.

    BTW, that previous line was supposed to read –

    ‘It’s the blow you’d love to land if you were set upon by thugs from behind in a boots & barstools brawl, but never could’.

  20. The Wrap says
  21. Pamela Sherpa says

    What on earth were the tribunal thinking by allowing character references? Judge the incident for what it was .

  22. The Wrap says

    You were saying PW? Butterfingers was one of the words I think I saw in you comments.

  23. Yep I agree with 4 weeks.
    We don’t want that in our game.
    We will see what it goes for Tom Bugg.

  24. Good morning and I appreciate you guys for your comments!

    Wrap – No worries and thanks for the quote. Sadly there are something we are unable to do and unavoidable to do.

    Pamela – Exactly and your thoughts came up when I heard the news on Tuesday night.

    Aidan – I’m glad to see the points of views from a young footy fan. You have better common senses than those who made such a decision. I feel shamed some adults mess the world negatively.



  25. Peter Warrington says

    Wrap, Butler was good last night. H needed to be, he passd the curse to Rioli and Catsgna.

    mcIntosh was just butter brained. I think we made 1 million clangers in the first half.

    Stengle looks a goodie. They said he was.

    Pamela, Houli was pleading not guilty to intentional. The references were part of showing “he wasn’t that type of guy”. As it turns out, intentional is mostly meaningless in these situation.

    Wrap, nice work putting the mockers on Essendon. I thought Woosha was pathetic in his response to their collapse last week, so he can take the blame for yet another one, against team #18 playing away.


    PS MEnadue again below the radar with good transitional play, He is a big part of the slightly improved form, in patches.

  26. The Wrap says

    Menadue & Short are a couple of good ordinary players – as the Late Great, Living Legend, Captain Blood would have said. No Foxtel, so I’ve only seen the highlights, and while it can be said that highlights can even make soccer look watchable, The Striped Marvels looked positively awesome. I’ll have to watch McIntosh more closely. Maybe not through rose coloured glasses.

    I was never a great wrap for Whooser at Melrose Drive: too Old School. In hindsight – and looking at the list out there where the Maribyrnong meets the Mountains – if you take out the inaccurate Joey D, the Ageing Hurley, Hooker & Zaharakis, and their Skipper and there’s not much left. But I thought the club was making an inspirational recovery on & off the field. I’m always happy to admit when I’m wrong PW – and I was wrong about The Windy Hill Gliders. Any talk of keeping Goddard & Watson on for a testimonial year should be abandoned forthwith.

    Eat ’em Alive Tigers! And spit out the bones.

  27. Daniel Flesch says

    Mr. Wrap , good to see you here again , and please forgive me for going off-topic. … late last year when i questioned the wisdom of my Hawks procuring the services of T. Vickery , esq., you assured me he is a strong mark and a straight kick. Perhaps then , you could explain why he can’t now get a game in the injury -raddled Hawthorn team , in which even the likeable but clanger-prone Schoenmakers gets a gig.
    A friend of mine , a 40 year paid-up member of the LSPRF tells me T.V. at Tigerland “played one good game in ten”: Not even getting the chance of that at Hawthorn. Apparentlythough, he’s going well as full back for Box Hill , whose coach , incidentally, is one Chris Newman.

  28. Rulebook says

    Yoshi as you no from The Rulebook face book page I maintain Houli was lucky to only end up getting 4 games he looked at Lamb it was a blatantly intentional strike not saying he meant to KO Lamb.I would have thought character references would have something to do with footy for mine it was a attempt to see if they could get the tribunal to be star struck it worked beyond there wildest dream.The Afl had to appeal the sentence it had no choice it was manifestly inadequate and they stufffed up not appealing the Cotchin error earlier in the year instead blasting the MRP and since then the resulting jumper punch farce as a result.Houli will be booed as a result of the insufficient penalty in the 1st place also re the character references and the perceived reverse racism and Houli being given a reduced sentence.
    What should really now be the debate is the complete and utter archaic Afl in not having a send off rule there have been now in Houli and Bugg 2 blatant cases in 2 weeks for goodness sake thanks Yoshi

  29. The Wrap says

    And thanks Rulebook. The only way Bachar will get booed is if people keep saying he’ll get booed. Although I do agree with the rest of your comments. We don’t get a very clear picture up at the Pooncarie Pub, and if the river’s running, I’m too busy emptying the drum nets to get into town, so I don’t see as much Footy as I’d like to, but I did see Cotch’s jumper punch. It was a beauty wasn’t it? I reckon his Brownlow Medal got him off that one, eh?

  30. The Wrap says

    It’s been dry up here Daniel, and the rabbits have gone a bit quiet so I find I’m spending more time in on The River. On Ty, I honestly thought he’d do well in the Hawthorn mix. As a matter of interest I saw his last quarter for the White Horses against Casey the other week, and he nearly turned the game around off his own boot with three goals. The first, an over the head handball receive in the goal square, but the other two where from strong overhead marks, the conversions of which left the goal umpire with no other exertion than to watch the ball sail over his head , raise two fingers (one on each hand), and wave the twin calicos. He’s got it in him, and I thought playing with Fourthorn bring more of it out of him. How was I to know the wheels were going to fall off the Dingley Dell Bandwagon? Although I should admit that I did invest in them not making it through to September, I didn’t think it would be as bad as it has been. Mathematically they have every chance, but history suggests that their draw and their percentage will count against them.

    The Competition’s as even as I can ever remember. The next few seasons are going to be very interesting indeed. I also invested in The Striped Marvels making The Final Eight. You think a lot clearer up here where it’s so serene you can hear the Sun go down.

  31. Paul Young says

    Is there another angle to the Houli incident that the Rulebook sees that I haven’t?

    To say he blatantly looks back AND then hits the Carlton player who was in the process of hanging on like a bloody parasite, is a stretch too far.

    It appears to me that Houli was being held, so as he swings his arm back, he looks over his shoulder at the same time, to break the tag. I don’t believe his intention was to smash the bloke in face. But that was the consequence of swinging his arm back and he has copped the penalty for his action. I reckon give there was some provocation and Houli’s exemplary record, 4 weeks down to 3 would have been fair enough.

    Maybe next time the Carlton fella will think twice about grabbing a bloke’s jumper when he’s 30m off the ball.

    By the way when is the AFL going to clamp down on this idiotic tactic of punches to a player’s back and kidney area behind the play, as Johansen copped on the weekend against West Coast. It’s a blight on the game.

  32. The Wrap says

    Hear! Hear !

  33. Vickery played about 10 good games in a row at the end of 2015 and early 2016. then he became Dimma’s scapegoat. his best is pretty good. needs to show it more. still got time.

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