Avid AFLW fan Elise Read was refused entry to a match between the Brisbane Lions and the Sydney Swans last Sunday, due to the fact she was wearing a shirt that endorsed the Voice to Parliament. When we say ACAB, we mean the AFL’s fashion police too.
Arriving early for the game, Elise dressed casually in a shirt plastered with the phrase “History is calling” and thought nothing of it. The shirt is an official piece of merchandise found on the Uluru Statement From The Heart’s website, and has been worn by the federal minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, at Vote Yes rallies.
However, much to Elise’s surprise, security turned her away from entering the stadium on the grounds that her shirt was “too political”, and she wasn’t alone! Another fan had the same experience trying to enter the match wearing the same shirt.
According to the guidelines from AFL’s ticketing rules, fans are not to “wear or otherwise display commercial, political, religious or offensive signage or logos of any kind.” The consistency of how these rules apply is left to the venue staff.
“It feels really ridiculous,” Elise stated on the venue’s harsh judgement. At the time she was left crying, trying to defend herself: “We’ve driven 40 minutes, I’ve bought a ticket, am I really being turned away?”
She was still refused entry when covering the shirt with a hoodie or wearing it inside out, but was allowed in once she changed her shirt with one she bought from a Big W.
However, after the debacle, the AFL chief executive, Gillon McLachlan, has apologised for Elise’s treatment, saying the entire incident “should not have happened.”
McLachlan explained the AFL’s stance on this type of political shirt: “People who are expressing their own views coming to games in a T-shirt — it’s absolutely their right to do that.”
It is additionally ironic as AFL have clearly pledged their support of the Voice to Parliament, stating, “the AFL proudly supports the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution through the Voice to Parliament.”
McLachlan has written off the staff venue’s decision to reject entry as “overzealous.”
Thankfully the day was not all bad news for Elise Read, as her beloved Brisbane Lions demolished the Swans by a score of 87 – 32.