The Australian Football League has chosen not to allocate advertising space for the government’s proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament during its prestigious Grand Final on September 30.
This move comes as a surprise since other prominent sporting entities like Tennis Australia, Cricket Australia, and the National Rugby League (NRL) have extended their backing, with the NRL even selling approximately $400,000 worth of advertising to the Yes campaign for its own finals.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had previously expressed hope for the AFL's endorsement of the Voice initiative during the Finals Series, which commences this Thursday with a highly anticipated match-up between Collingwood and Melbourne.
However, the AFL Commission has opted not to leverage its flagship event for political campaigning.
Victorian Liberal Senator James Paterson commented on the decision, saying:
"This may be a rare moment of clarity from our sporting codes. Footy fans do not want constitutional advice or a moral lecture while watching the game. It's a very sensible decision."
Former AFL star Nick Dal Santo also weighed in, expressing that while the AFL is typically inclusive, he agrees with the league's choice to steer clear of political messages during the Grand Final.
"They do a superb job to promote all charities and it’s a real community feel," he added.
President of the AFL Fans Association, Ron Issko, remarked that fans should have the freedom to make their own decisions on the Voice referendum, set for October 14, without influence from the AFL.
Meanwhile, it remains uncertain whether the NRL will feature any Voice campaigns during its Grand Final on October 1.
Various sporting legends have been enlisted by the Yes campaign to promote the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, while the No camp has garnered support from outspoken Indigenous rights activist and former NRL star Anthony Mundine.