AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has defended the sport’s decision not to use the Aboriginal flag during this weekend’s Indigenous Round.
There was widespread outrage when it was revealed the Aboriginal flag would not appear on guernseys or in the centre circle, as it has in previous years.
It’s the result of a non-Indigenous apparel company, WAM Clothing, holding the licence to the flag. Under the agreement, a fee is charged for the use of the flag.
Speaking to 3AW’s Neil Mitchell, McLachlan said the sport had decided to take a stand.
“The Aboriginal flag is an official flag of Australia, it should be able to be proudly displayed as an act of inclusion and recognition of Aboriginal people,” he said.
“The clear advice from our Indigenous advisory council was to not enter into that commercial arrangement with the licence holders of the flag this year.
“It’s a big issue that we have to pay for it.”
McLachlan said it was “absolutely true” to label the decision a stand on principle, rather than financial. He said it was clear that the ball was now in the government’s court to determine the best way forward.
An unofficial campaign has now been launched, encouraging fans to bring their own flags to matches this weekend to show their support.
McLachlan’s stance has the backing of Carlton’s Eddie Betts, who says the decision to charge for the use of the flag is wrong.
“I wrote a children’s book about Aboriginal culture and I put the Aboriginal flag in there. I didn’t know I had to get permission being an Aboriginal person to teach young kids at school about Aboriginal culture,” Betts told AFL360.
“There was a lot of politics behind it … I support the AFL for not paying to use the Aboriginal flag because it should be free for everyone.”