A SOUTH West District league footballer is the latest to be suspended for umpire abuse following a spate of incidents across the region.
Heywood reserves player Rory Bell received a four-week ban after he pleaded guilty at an AFL Western District independent tribunal hearing on Wednesday night.
The panel said the fact Bell abused the umpire in more than one instance "was concerning".
It also raised the issue of umpire recruitment and retention.
"There are games in the region not getting umpires because they can't get any," a member of the panel said.
"This doesn't help the cause, does it?"
Bell was red-carded and reported after multiple verbal sprays in the fourth quarter of the Lions' clash against Heathmere on Saturday.
It followed a 50-metre penalty which resulted in a goal to the opposition.
He swore at umpire Alan Heaver - an appointed South West District Football Umpires Association official - and questioned whether he knew the rules.
Heaver tried to give Bell a yellow card and he was told to leave the ground but he went into the centre.
He abused the umpire again and was then given a red card.
Heaver - an umpire whose experience dates back to the early 1970s and who has umpired regularly since 2000 - said Bell "yelled" at him on multiple occasions.
"I don't think it was threatening. I think he was upset and venting," he said of Bell's behaviour.
But Heaver said the actions were "a bit beyond reasonable as far as I was concerned".
Bell admitted guilt, saying it was "in the heat of the moment".
"I did say those things," he said of the abuse directed towards the umpire.
"It was inappropriate."
The umpires offered Bell four weeks post game which he accepted but the matter, under AFL Victoria rules, had to be sent to the tribunal.
The suspension was the fourth for umpire abuse across AFL Western Victoria leagues in the past month.
It also comes after a Hampden league senior match was delayed temporarily on Saturday after alleged abuse from spectators and after the Warrnambool and District league called for respect towards officials in April.
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