The AFL appeals board has insisted on the need to "send a strong message" to participants at all levels of the game by doubling GWS star Toby Greene's suspension for intentional umpire contact to six matches.
Greene will miss the first five rounds of the 2022 season after the board on Thursday upheld the league's challenge to the length of the initial three-match penalty handed down by the independent tribunal in August.
The charge emanated from Greene's run-in with experienced whistle-blower Matt Stevic at three-quarter time of the Giants' elimination-final win over Sydney.
The AFL appealed on the grounds the tribunal's sanction was "manifestly inadequate", with league boss Gillon McLachlan finding it "personally hard to reconcile" with the fact a jury made up of past players found Greene guilty of "aggressive, demonstrative and disrespectful" conduct.
In handing down the appeals board's decision, chairman Murray Kellam said the initial three-match ban was "not only inadequate but demonstrably and manifestly so".
Kellam said the board felt there was a requirement for Greene's penalty to adequately denounce the dual All Australian's conduct as well as deter others from committing similar offences.
"There is a need to send a strong message to players in the AFL competition and players in the sport of Australian football at all levels that the commission of a reportable offence such as this will not be tolerated," Kellam said.
"Umpires at all levels have to know that this is the position, and that they can carry out their vital function with confidence.
"The image, the integrity and the reputation of Australian football must be protected.
"That can only happen if players at all levels act responsibly and honour their obligations to the umpires."
Greene and Stevic were not called on to give further evidence at Thursday's appeal hearing, which was deferred until the end of the season at the Giants' request and conducted via video link.
During the initial tribunal hearing in August, Greene conceded he was at fault for making contact with Stevic and apologised for doing so, but repeatedly denied the contact was intentional.
Kellam said the appeals board took that into consideration when reaching its verdict and indicated Greene's denials of intent three days after the incident occurred had counted against him.
Greene served one match of his suspension when he sat out the Giants' season-ending semi-final defeat to Geelong last month and will be free to play in round six next year.
The 28-year-old has been in contention to take over the GWS captaincy from Stephen Coniglio in 2022, but will now miss a significant portion of the season and may not be considered suitable for the role.
Greene's leadership qualities are highly regarded by the Giants despite his repeated indiscretions, which have led to 22 charges over his decade-long career.
The mercurial forward has now been suspended for a total of 14 matches and accrued almost $30,000 worth of fines.
GWS football manager Jason McCartney said the club accepted the appeals board's decision.
"As we said at the time, as a club we maintain that umpires are sacrosanct," McCartney said in a statement.
"We understand the important role they play in our game and they are to be respected at all times.
"Toby apologised for his actions.
"He is remorseful for the incident that occurred and understands the responsibility he has to umpires specifically, and the game more broadly."
Australian Associated Press