- AFL spokesperson declined to run Voice displays
The AFL has reportedly ruled out promoting the Voice on Grand Final day after the league commission warned against an 11th hour push.
Both the AFL and NRL have declared their support for the Indigenous Voice to parliament, with grand finals for both codes to take place before the October 14 vote.
But while top government officials expected the events to deliver the Yes campaign’s message to millions of viewers, an AFL spokesman its governing body – the AFL Commission – would not run any ads for the Voice on game day.
The commission reportedly rules that the AFL would not actively campaign during the September finals series, Nine newspapers reported.
High-level sources familiar with the commission’s decision said clubs and individual players would still be free to do so, if they chose.
Yes campaign sources said a grand final day push could risk a backlash from fans who did not support the mixing of sport and politics.
‘People just want to watch the footy,’ one source said.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has previously hit out at so-called ‘elites’ in the AFL and NRL over their public support for the Yes campaign earlier this year.
‘Their fans are really scratching their head as to why the elites within the sport are taking a position in to the Voice,’ Mr Dutton said.
The Voice campaign has garnered support from multiple high-profile current and former players, including Essendon’s Michael Long.
Long is currently walking from Melbourne to Canberra to drum up support for the Voice, and this week said he would also petition King Charles.
As for the NRL, who have also backed the Voice publicly, a spokesperson told Nine papers grand final plans had not been ‘finalised’.
A source familiar with the league’s plans said the NRL was developing plans to support the Yes campaign with an event(s) prior to the vote.
‘The AFL is better at the optics, no question, but they’re currently making excuses to not get on board,’ the source said.
Labor sources further alleged to the media that the decision to hold the referendum on October 14 was at least partly driven by the grand finals.
A range of ideas to promote the Voice during the events were reportedly discussed, including boundary line advertising and a recitation.