Greater Western Sydney superstar Toby Greene has been found guilty and copped a three-game ban at the AFL tribunal, after it was deemed he made intentional contact with an umpire during the Giants' elimination final win over the Swans on Saturday.
The three-match suspension means Greene will miss Friday's knockout semi-final against Geelong and will not play again this season, having also been wiped from his side's potential preliminary final and grand final fixtures.
After the AFL argued for a suspension of no less than six games, Greene's legal team called for no ban and rather a fine of $20,000-25,000.
The tribunal panel then clearly compromised in handing down a three-game suspension.
The two-time All-Australian admitted contact with Stevic was made as he walked toward the Giants' team huddle at three-quarter time, but he pleaded not guilty on the basis that it wasn't intentional.
In defence of his closeness to Stevic, Greene said "there were some loud noises around me", and he had to get close to him to get his point across during a tense conversation.
When responding to why he made contact with the whistleblower, the 27-year-old said he was "beginning to roll to avoid contact" when he walked past him.
It was then AFL legal counsel Jeff Gleeson QC's turn to challenge Greene – and he was ruthless in his argument.
Gleeson contended that Greene could have "easily followed" the path of teammate Harry Perryman, before adding that it was his job to control the direction of his movements yet still walked into him, bumping him with a shoulder.
"I made contact, I didn't bump him," Greene said.
Gleeson hit back, saying he "veered towards" Stevic.
But Greene rejected that claim.
"I was engaging in a discussion," Greene said.
"That's why I was extremely close to him."
In Gleeson's final submission following a 25-minute break in the hearing, he said "umpires are untouchable".
"It's fundamental to our game … that the umpire is respected," Gleeson added.
"The moment any of us deviate from enforcing that rule, because it's hard, is the moment we change the game and the way our umpires are treated."
Gleeson also said Greene "complained, swore, got in his face and bumped him", while adding that his actions were "insolent and contemptuous".
Greene's representative, Ben Ihle QC, agreed with Gleeson that the contact was "a terrible look".
But he said the question the tribunal must consider was: "At the point contact was made, what was going through Toby Greene's mind?"
Ihle argued that the tribunal mustn't make a decision based on the look, but what was going through Greene's head.
"Mr Greene should have never put himself in that situation, but that doesn't mean he made intentional contact," Ihle added.
Astoundingly, Greene had headed into today's tribunal hearing having already been found guilty of a charge 22 times, while he had also been suspended for a total of eight games and been fined an accumulative $29,350.
The 176-game AFL career of the gun Giant has been shrouded in controversy since his arrival at GWS via the 2011 national draft.
In attendance at today's tribunal case were chair Gleeson as well as panel members Shane Wakelin, Stephen Jurica and Richard Loveridge, while Greene was represented by Ihle.
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