Former AFL star turned media commentator David King has hit back at critics who took a dim view of the league’s decision to proceed with round one on Thursday night.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan announced on Wednesday night that the 2020 season would get underway with no crowds, despite almost all other major sporting codes around the world shutting down due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
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The AFLW will proceed as planned, but the last two rounds before finals will be ditched - to the dismay of AFLW players.
King, speaking on AFL 360 after the decision was announced, slammed critics of the AFL who believed the league should be suspended, saying fans should be ‘excited’.
“If you’re angry about the game being on now, you’re kidding yourself — get excited,” King opined.
“I’m glad the players said yes; I’m glad the players have been so strong.
“Everyone has been having a go at them about the 20 per cent paycut this week, but if at any point during the process they got wobbly, we wouldn’t be playing tomorrow night.”
Fellow host, former Carlton great Mark Maclure, was in full agreement.
I’m proud of the game, I think it was a great decision,” Maclure said.
AFL slammed over decision to proceed with round one
Richmond's season opener against Carlton will of course be played behind closed doors at the MCG but the fact it's going ahead is music to the ears of most footy fans.
The decision to push ahead in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic came after a marathon AFL Commission meeting followed by a teleconference with all 18 club chief executives on Wednesday.
"I think the Commission needed to consider widely and understand the position clearly of the chief medical officer and the medical industry, of government, of our clubs, our presidents, our industry really," McLachlan told reporters.
Fans were divided over the decision, with many questioning the wisdom of going ahead with games in the current environment.
On the flipside, many others were excited the games were going ahead, providing some much needed respite from the pandemic.
Disgraceful decision by the AFL, why do we differ from any other world sport right now, scary what greed does .
— Dominic McCarthy (@dominicmccarthy) March 18, 2020
While I’m a bit shocked & concerned the AFL is going ahead this weekend.. I’m gonna be tuning in to every game. Brings some enjoyment right now.
— Andrew French (@AFrenchy91) March 18, 2020
Not sure the @AFL made the right move here. Put it back 4 weeks and avoid issues.
But you know.....money
— #ImpeachJoshHall (@RealFreeBrowny) March 18, 2020
Love the footy is back!! But I’m genuinely shocked by the decision. Does it not take into account that every other sport in the world is cancelled/postponed at the minute? Imagine the uproar if a player plays this weekend and then tests positive to #COVID19au.
— Josh Shields (@joshyshields) March 18, 2020
— Hayden Calnin (@HaydenCalnin) March 18, 2020