Twelve things that the GAA can do to help clean up discipline
By Jack Anderson
1. The creation of a full-time disciplinary unit at Croke Park, replacing the disciplinary functions currently held by the Central Competitions Control Committee.
2. Where a match has been abandoned due to misconduct by players or a club or the act of a player or club merits serious sanction (eg assault of a referee) that matter should be referred directly to the central disciplinary unit of the GAA for investigation and not the county board.
3. In any instance where the central disciplinary unit of the GAA is of the opinion that a sanction given by a county or provincial body such as a CCC or a hearing committee is manifestly inadequate, the central disciplinary unit can appeal that decision or ask the county or provincial body to give reasons as to why a minimum sanction only has been applied.
4. All existing county and provincial disciplinary bodies (CCCs) should be obliged to provide a yearly breakdown of sanctions so that a centralised database can be maintained for comparison purposes.
5. Amend the rule book such that if a player or club appeals a CCC proposed sanction which has been confirmed against that player at a hearing, that player or club’s suspension is automatically doubled if the appeal fails.
6. Where a club has more than three players red-carded in a game, it is automatically forfeited, and the club further sanctioned for bringing the association into disrepute.
7. Encroachment onto the playing area by a club official, substitute or supporter not otherwise authorised to do so, that person should at a minimum be banned for 48 weeks.
Where there has been an unauthorised encroachment onto the field of play, strictly oblige the referee in charge to prematurely end the game and the matter be referred to the central disciplinary unit.
8. Replace current yellow and black card system with a yellow card sin bin of 15 minutes.
9. Draft a duty of care charter reminding players, official and spectators and that the Association’s primary duty of care is player safety and any member of the Association who, through violence etc, breaches that duty of care will face immediate sporting sanction and that their actions will carry personal insurance, civil and even criminal liability repercussions for the injuring player and vicariously their club.
10. Stop the piecemeal amendment of the rule book on discipline and take the existing disciplinary related sections of the GAA’s Official Guide out of the Guide and into a separate, clearer and more consistent disciplinary code.
11. Zero tolerance of abuse of officials at underage games, entitling referees to prematurely end a game on persistent abuse from players and or from sideline officials and parents and reward good behaviour at underage level: clubs with a good disciplinary record, by way of each county keeping a fair play table, to be rewarded with priority intercounty ticket allocations, subsided player gear, equipment etc.
12. Lads, and it’s almost exclusively lads, just cop on and play ball.
Jack Anderson is Professor of Sports Law at Melbourne Law School