The sight of a new addition to the AFL finals series has prompted outrage from footy fans with a major sponsor accused of going too far.
AFL: The Magpies celebrated in front of a loud MCG crowd after withstanding a late charge from the Melbourne Demons in the opening finals match.
There has been anger and head-shaking across the footy community after a goofy Coles mascot made an appearance during the toss of the coin before the Collingwood-Melbourne qualifying final at the MCG on Thursday night.
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The sight of the supermarket goliath’s “prices are down” symbol standing alongside Demons captain Max Gawn and Collingwood skipper Darcy Moore didn’t sit well with some fans.
The five-fingered mascot did a merry old jig in the background as the coin flew in the air and Max Gawn pointed to the far side of the ground.
It was all a bit bizarre for plenty of fans on social media.
ESPN’s Matt Walsh shared a video of the awkward moment and wrote: “This is grim”.
One version of the video has more than 100,000 views on Twitter and has been received with a flurry of comments.
One Twitter user wrote: “This is embarrassing”.
Another replied: “WTF – how is this allowed”.
Footy fans on Reddit were even more unimpressed — both by the AFL and its financial backer.
One fan said: “The AFL has lost it allowing this”.
It was a timely reminder of highly-visible partnership between the AFL and Coles, which was first struck up before the 2020 AFL season — when the Coles logo was first seen covering the inside of the centre circle as the “official supermarket” of the league and the AFLW.
Coles announced in 2020 the parties signed a five-year deal.
Since then Coles has further invested in football and is also Collingwood’s official “community partner”.
The supermarket chain this year also raised eyebrows in its role in “presenting” the Dreamtime at the G pre-match show.
It was also impossible to miss at the AFL’s inaugural “Gather Round” where it featured at the official fan festival site sponsoring the “Coles Healthy Kicks fitness course”.
Moore was seen grinning during Thursday night’s coin toss and he was also grinning at full time after Collingwood held on for a thrilling 9.6 (60) to 7.11 (53) win.
In front of more than 92,000 fans on a Thursday night, the MCG was absolutely pumping as the Demons cut a 25-point deficit at three-quarter time to just seven with three minutes remaining.
For the Demons, it’s a tough road ahead who will play the winner of Carlton and Sydney, for the chance to play the winner of Brisbane and Port Adelaide if they are to make the grand final.
News.com.au has reached out to Coles for comment.