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Hell on turf: How the AFL is preparing for a Folau scenario

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Over the past week, the AFL and a number of the clubs have placed themselves in the uncomfortable shoes of a rival sport, rugby union, and posed this question: How would we handle a social media outbreak of anti-gay sentiment from one of our players?

The case of Israel Folau is one that the AFL and indeed all significant sports are watching closely, with a degree of unease. They might say there but for the grace of God, knowing that it is the expression of a certain kind of godliness – the type containing a splash of bigotry – that has landed Folau in strife.

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

The AFL and the clubs must be prepared for a Folau-like event. It will be a matter of dumb luck if there isn't a similar incident, in which a religious or socially conservative (some would say reactionary) footballer expresses views – in public forums – that violate both the club/AFL inclusion policies and the new secular progressive values of today.

The Folau case is yet another measure of how these progressive or secular values have eroded the former conservative position and become the new orthodoxy - demonstrated most dramatically in the marriage equality vote.

The AFL, like most sports, long ago cast themselves with business in the progressive/secular camp, a reality seen in the fact that footy was played on Good Friday for the third time this weekend, and, in an unrelated development, that AFL and Geelong and Carlton officials saw fit to speak to Gary Ablett and Matthew Kennedy about their decision to "like" the offending tweet from Folau.

The AFL have already flown the LGBTI rainbow flag outside their headquarters, a decision that was inevitable once the AFLW became entrenched, given that competition's huge proportion of players in completely open same sex relationships.

But "diversity",........

© Brisbane Times