AFL on delicate balance of Pride Round drama

Haneen Zreika ducks out of reach of a Geelong player

The AFL’s head of inclusion has spoken about Giants player Haneen Zreika, after the AFLW player refused to play wearing a guernsey celebrating Pride Round.

Key points:

  • GWS’s Haneen Zreika sat out the AFLW’s Pride Round because she said the round’s meaning clashed with her Islamic faith
  • AFL inclusivity head Tanya Hosch says administrators had plenty of warning before Zreika made her decision
  • She said the league wanted to acknowledge people of all faiths, without alienating LGBTQIA players, staff and fans

Zreika, a practicing Muslim, sat out the league’s Pride Round as she believed the rainbow-themed uniform did not represent her faith.

The head of the AFL’s inclusion and social policy, Tanya Hosch, told the ABC’s The W podcast that inclusion was a complicated matter.

“People of faith have rights as well,” Hosch said.

“We say we’re a game for everyone and here we’ve got a situation where we’ve got someone who feels they’ve got to make a decision on whether or not they’ll play based on a uniform that they don’t feel they should be representing in.

Haneen Zreika ducks out of reach of a Geelong player
Haneen Zreika said her decision was “extremely difficult”.(AFL Photos via Getty Images, Jonathan DiMaggio)

“We want the game to be inclusive, you don’t get to choose to just pick and choose who represents inclusion.”

Hosch revealed the AFL had been grappling with the issue for a number of weeks.

“I had a bit more awareness of it ahead of it entering the public domain, which I think the first thing to say was critical,” she said.

Author: Ivan Robinson