AFL clubs face backlash and praise for Australia Day posts

Callum Ah Chee holds onto the ball as he prepares for contact with Connor Rozee

AFL clubs have faced equal parts praise and criticism after all but one club published social media posts either calling for a change to Australia Day or offering solidarity to Indigenous people.

Key points:

  • Of the 18 AFL clubs, 17 made a statement addressing Australia Day on Twitter
  • A year after coming under fire for historical racism, Collingwood published several posts supporting a change in date
  • Players said they want to celebrate Australia, but not on January 26

Every club besides the Geelong Cats addressed the issue on their Twitter accounts, with a mix of calls to change the date and statements from Indigenous players about what January 26 means to them.

The Brisbane Lions were one of the first clubs to post their statement, tweeting that Australia Day was not a day to celebrate.

“It’s a very sad day for Indigenous people all over the country,” Lions star Nakia Cockatoo was quoted as saying.

“It’s a day of sorrow. Recognising what has happened on the 26th is a very big part of our culture.”

Teammate Callum Ah Chee said Indigenous people wanted to celebrate Australia, but couldn’t do so until the date was changed from January 26.

Callum Ah Chee holds onto the ball as he prepares for contact with Connor Rozee
Lions star Callum Ah Chee said he wants to celebrate Australia, but not on January 26.(AAP: Darren England)

“All Indigenous people want to celebrate this great country, but we want to do it together,” he said.

“If we could celebrate on another date, we want to be a part of that.”

The Lions post earned the ire of Senator Matt Canavan, who took offence to the stance.

“Don’t support the Brisbane Lions,” Senator Canavan wrote.

“Does anyone know if the Brisbane Lions staff are at work today?”

North Melbourne posted a video of player Kyron Hayden addressing the playing group in the club rooms.

“(Australia) should be celebrated by all, young, old, white, black, or other,” Hayden said.

“But unfortunately, today’s date is not a day of celebration for all 26 million of us. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it is a day of mourning.”


The Collingwood Football Club, which had come under fire a year ago over the Do Better report and historical racism, was one of the most vocal clubs on the day.

“The Collingwood Football Club acknowledges that today represents a day of sadness and sorrow for many of Australia’s First Nations people,” a statement read.

“Freeing the Aboriginal flag is a great example of leadership roles that our institutions can play in supporting matters that are important to our people.

“As a club, we are committed to working towards a day where all Australians can celebrate together. This will acknowledge the true story of this great country and be inclusive of all.

“Always was, always will be.”

Collingwood’s American import Mason Cox also revealed he had refused to be sworn in as an Australian citizen on January 26, believing it to be culturally insensitive.

While Geelong was the only club to not address the day, Carlton came under fire for its apparent neutrality on the issue.

“The Carlton Football Club acknowledges that this date causes a great deal of distress to a number of people both within our organisation and within broader society,” the club’s statement wrote.

“Given this, as a club we support a continuing discussion.”



Author: Ivan Robinson