Sunraysia footballers say strong stance needed on AFLW trolls

Sunraysia footballers Sam Bice and Jemma Jo Johnson say the AFL should take a strong stance against comments directed at AFLW star Tayla Harris.

Sunraysia footballers Sam Bice and Jemma Jo Johnson say the AFL should take a strong stance against comments directed at AFLW star Tayla Harris.

“THE football field is not a place to worry about any gender stereotypes.” 

That’s the sentiment of local footballer Jemma Johnson, who said the AFL “missed an opportunity” yesterday to not only support AFLW star Tayla Harris, but to call out gender inequality.

An action photograph of 21-year-old Harris became the unwitting subject for internet trolls whose “repulsive” comments prompted Seven Network to delete the post on social media.

The photo was later reinstated and an apology issued after criticism flowed for giving in to online trolls.

“The amount of times I’ve been watching footy and men get tackled and end up with their bare bums out and the commentators don’t even skip a beat,” Johnson said.

“That’s not sexualised, it goes unnoticed.

“We’re literally just there to play the game. We’ve waited this long to play, let us just enjoy the game and develop.”

Johnson drew a comparison between the photograph of Harris and the statue of football legend EJ Whitten.

“It’s two people doing the exact same thing in the exact same sport – they’re almost identical,” Johnson said.

“One has been immortalised in a statue and the other was sexualised. That’s ridiculous.”

Fellow Sunraysia women’s footballer Sam Bice could not understand the mentality of the internet trolls.

“Surely the people that make these comments have daughters, nieces, friends who are female and play sport,” Bice said.

“If it was their own daughter, it would be completely different.”

Johnson and Bice both said there’s a lot of work being done in local footy to ensure it’s a more equal playing field. 

This story appears in Thursday's Sunraysia Daily 21/03/2019. To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here

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