The AFLW has been drawn into controversy after a last-minute decision not to go ahead with a planned minute of silence before each game out of respect for the late Queen Elizabeth.
The 96-year-old monarch died late last week, with many sporting codes around the world pausing to honour her memory, while many others, particularly throughout the UK, have been postponed entirely.
A minute of silence was held prior to each of the AFL men's finals fixtures held this weekend, but the AFLW were in a much more awkward position considering they are recognising Indigenous Round this week.
A minute of silence was observed prior to the Western Bulldogs' clash with Fremantle on Friday, but with some within the AFLW unhappy with the lack of consultation from head office it was subsequently abandoned for following fixtures.
The controversy comes as NRLW player Caitlin Moran was referred to the integrity unit over a since-deleted Instagram post referring to the Queen's death.
The decision caused a degree of backlash among some observers, however Western Bulldogs director Belinda Duarte explained that commemorating the Queen's legacy was a concept that clashed with the spirit of the Indigenous round.
She said the legacy of the monarchy 'unearthed deep wounds' among Indigenous people.
“While for many Australians it’s seen as appropriate to recognise the significance of the Queen’s passing, we must understand what this brings up for First Peoples, the impact of colonisation and what the monarchy represents to us and our families,” Duarte said.
AFL reporter Sam Edmund posted on Twitter, saying the Indigenous elder who had agreed to do the Welcome to Country for the Bulldogs-Fremantle fixture had backed out over the planned minute of silence.
"The AFL's decision to banish the minute's silence for the Queen in the remaining AFLW indigenous round matches came to a head last night," Edmund posted on Saturday.
"The minute's silence for Dogs-Freo at Ikon Park prompted the Welcome to Country person to withdraw. AFL listened to club feedback & acted."
However many on social media remained critical of the AFLW, despite the difficult position they were in.
Absolutely pathetic work from AFLW. https://t.co/H0W8hBKcyA
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) September 10, 2022
The AFLW not observing a minute’s silence last night to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II is an insult to their sport, to Her Majesty’s memory, in fact, to Australia. And all because it was Indigenous Week. That’ll help The Voice campaign. Not.
— Derryn Hinch (@HumanHeadline) September 9, 2022
Is it true that the AFLW are not recognising the Queen’s death? If so, I am so disappointed. Please reconsider the appropriate authorities and rectify this!
— Susan Alberti AC (@SusanAlberti1) September 11, 2022
If you’re wondering why there is no minute silence for the Queen at AFLW games because it is INDIGENOUS ROUND…. Think, think again, think slightly deeper then realise 💡 and keep scrolling 🖤💛❤️ #ALWAYSwasALWAYSwillbe
— Kate McCarthy (@kateemac9) September 11, 2022
Watching all the hard men conservatives crying because the queen won’t be getting a minutes silence in the AFLW because it’s indigenous round is giving me lifeblood. Always will be the softest people on the planet ❄️
— Mark (@marzephyr12) September 10, 2022
AFL reschedules Brownlow Medal out of respect for Queen
Meanwhile, the AFL has moved the Brownlow Medal away from the traditional Monday night before the grand final to avoid a clash with the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
The AFL's biggest night of the year was scheduled to be held at Crown Casino in Melbourne on September 19.
But AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has confirmed the league will stage the Brownlow on September 18 instead, out of respect for the late Queen.
The funeral service for Queen Elizabeth II has not been confirmed, but it will almost certainly be held on September 19.
The move is not without precedent, with the AFL rescheduling a qualifying final in 1997 so it did not clash with the funeral of Princess Diana.
"We have had a lot of practice over the last two years at being agile when needed and I want to thank the Seven Network, Crown Melbourne and all our partners for being so accommodating with this decision," McLachlan said.
"It's the right one, and we're incredibly glad to have their support.
"In the lead-up to the AFL grand final, the Brownlow is the AFL's night of nights, and we look forward to celebrating the medal count accordingly on the Sunday night."
Brisbane Lions star Lachie Neale, Fremantle young gun Andrew Brayshaw and Melbourne premiership hero Clayton Oliver are the leading contenders for the AFL's highest individual honour.
Tributes continue to flow for the late Queen, with the MCG lights turned off before the Melbourne-Brisbane semi-final on Friday night as 62,162 fans observed a minute's silence.
The AFL also played part of God Save The Queen before the national anthem as the Demons and Lions teams stood on the field.
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