AFLW player withdraws from match over pride jumpers

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·Sports Reporter
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GWS Giants player Haneen Zreika is out of this weekend's AFLW matches, having decided not to wear a custom designed pride jumper due to religious reasons. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/Getty Images)
GWS Giants player Haneen Zreika is out of this weekend's AFLW matches, having decided not to wear a custom designed pride jumper due to religious reasons. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

An AFLW player has withdrawn from selection for this weekend's match, after deciding she cannot wear the specially Pride Round designed jumper for religious reasons.

GWS Giants player Haneen Zreika has the support of her teammates in her decision, having explained her reasoning for doing so.

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Teammates reportedly understand they have Zreika's support for the Pride Round on a personal level, understanding that it was a difficult decision for her to make.

Though the AFLW Pride Round took place last weekend, the Giants opted not to wear their specially designed jumpers until they played at home at Henson Park this weekend, after an away game last round.

Teams are to be released on Thursday evening, and the Giants have not made a comment at this stage.

Zreika has had assistance from both the AFL and the Giants in reaching her decision.

The 22-year-old was the first Muslim player play an AFLW match when she debuted for the Giants in 2019.

She has played in previous iterations of the AFLW Pride Round, however those did not feature customised designs many clubs have introduced this season.

A speedy small forward, Zreika won the AFLW goal of the year last season, and has played in all three Giants games so far this season.

The Giants have won one of their first three matches, and face the 12th placed Western Bulldogs this weekend in Sydney.

AFLW coach's apology over Pride Round comments

A week prior to the Pride Round, West Coast coach Michael Prior found himself in hot water after suggesting the pride concept had been 'done to death'.

He made the comment in response to a question about what the round meant to the team, saying 'I talk about footy, not what we’re wearing.'

The comments sparked outrage among fans, particularly considering the Eagles were the only club not to design a custom jumper for Pride Round.

Prior made an apology several days later.

“Our football club, the players and I are fully supportive of Pride Round and the LGBTQIA+ community,” he said via a statement on the club's website.

West Coast AFLW coach Michael Prior apologised for suggesting LGBTQI+ support from the league had been 'done to death' ahead of the Pride Round. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
West Coast AFLW coach Michael Prior apologised for suggesting LGBTQI+ support from the league had been 'done to death' ahead of the Pride Round. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“The West Coast Eagles pride ourselves on being an inclusive club where everyone is welcome and we know how important this is to our players, staff, members and supporters.

“I sincerely apologise to everyone who was offended by the report in The West Australian on Friday, and the players, coaches, staff and myself look forward to participating in Pride Round this weekend.

“We have recognised and participated in Pride Round this week by wearing a unique training singlet, rainbow socks, media pieces and we will also have on-ground recognition on match day.

“The design, manufacture and production of a playing guernsey is a process we take seriously and we are collaborating with our playing group through this process before we respectfully release, celebrate and educate about our new jumper.

“To further clarify comments I made in an interview with The West Australian, during my conversation with the journalist, I stated that as the West Coast Eagles AFLW coach I was keen to talk about football and the massive challenge our group has ahead of them against the Adelaide Crows tomorrow.

“It has been widely reported our club does not have a guernsey for Pride Round this weekend, and my comments reflected the fact that as a club we have already extensively detailed the reasons for this and we were now keen to focus on the upcoming match.

“Footy is a game for everyone and, as a club, the West Coast Eagles welcome everyone as part of the footy family.”

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