Big snub in AFL Grand Final for Voice’s “Yes” campaign
The AFL reportedly ruled out promoting the Voice on the big finals day after the league commission warned against an 11th-hour push.
Both the AFL and NRL declared their support for the Indigenous Voice referendum in Parliament in May, with a grand final for both codes to be held before the Oct. 14 vote.
Nine newspapers reported on Wednesday senior government officials expected the events to convey the message of the Yes campaign to millions of viewers.
But an AFL spokesman told Nine Newspapers that the country’s largest sports governing body has declined to conduct voice screenings on game day, Saturday September 30.
The commission’s direction was reportedly that the AFL would not campaign actively during the September finals series.
The AFL Grand Final comes just two weeks before all Australians go to the polls to vote yes or no on the voice referendum
Senior sources familiar with the commission’s decision said clubs and individual players remain free to do so if they so choose.
Yes campaign sources told Nine that a big push on the final day could spark a backlash from fans who don’t support the blending of sport and politics.
“People just want to watch football,” one of the sources told Nine, while another said the AFL’s decision would not be violated.
Earlier this year, opposition leader Peter Dutton has criticized so-called “elites” in the AFL and NRL for their public support for the Yes campaign.
“Your fans are really puzzled as to why the sport’s elite (…) are taking a stand against The Voice,” Dutton said.
The Voice campaign has garnered support from several high-profile current and former players, including Essedon’s Michael Long.
Long is currently traveling to Canberra from Melbourne to rally support for the Voice and this week he said he would also petition the king.
As for the NRL, which The Voice has also publicly endorsed, a spokesperson said Nine Papers’ big final plans aren’t “complete.”
The Voice campaign has garnered support from several high-profile current and former players, including Essedon’s Michael Long
A source familiar with the league’s plans said the NRL is developing plans to back the yes campaign with one or more events ahead of the vote.
“The AFL is better on the visual side, no question, but they’re finding excuses not to participate right now,” the source said.
Labor sources went on to claim to the media that the decision to hold the October 14 referendum was at least partly due to the grand final.
A number of ideas for promoting the voice were reportedly discussed during the events, including border advertising and a recitation.