The Arena Football League will move to a six-man officiating crew during the 2012 season, AFL Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz announced today. The addition also brings a change to challenge and replay rules in all AFL-markets.
Since the League's inception in 1987, a five-man officiating team was in place; however, League officials began talks of adding a member to the officiating crew to maintain the accuracy and credibility of the game.
"The discussion started during Week 18 of the 2011 season," AFL Director of Football Operations Joe Kleinsmith said. "During the 2011 postseason, we added a sixth-man to the officiating crew."
The six-man mechanic worked and the League opted to use six-man officiating crews during every game of the 2012 AFL season.
"One of our main concerns was interference by both players and fans," Kleinsmith said. "Instead of just one back judge, we added a second."
The League will utilize one referee, an umpire, line judge, side judge and two back judges.
"I think that's a commitment from the AFL to the importance of officiating, fair play and player safety," AFL Assistant Coordinator of Officials Dave Chesney said.
The AFL will still utilize regional officiating crews, who are rotated and also strategically placed in other areas.
The League has also changed replay and challenge rules for the AFL's 25th season in 2012.
Coaches' challenges and replays will be available in every AFL market for all regular season and post season games. Teams will be awarded two challenges per contest. If they win both, a third challenge will be available. Furthermore, challenges will only be available if the team has a timeout remaining.