Former Footy Show host Sam Newman has sent a shot across the bows of the AFL after the league was heavily criticised for a bungled communication surrounding vaccination.
All players had needed to have flu shots before entering a Queensland hub, but concerns were raised over the extra requirement of a pneumococcal vaccination for Indigenous players.
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The AFL Players Association took the league to task over the move.
"In the past 48 hours, the AFLPA has become aware of Indigenous players being required to have pneumococcal vaccinations prior to entering AFL (hubs)," AFLPA chief Paul Marsh said on Saturday.
"We are very concerned about this issue.
"The fact that these vaccinations were not discussed with the AFLPA as part of the return play protocols or otherwise, is a significant issue we have raised with the AFL.”
Newman seized upon the issue, referring back to his earlier arguments against the AFL’s public support of the Black Lives Matter movement to suggest the league was guilty of perpetrating racism itself.
“Isn’t it often the way, the people who accuse you of something usually end up doing it far worse,” he wrote on Twitter.
“The AFL requiring aboriginal players to adhere to different safety protocols IS the epitome of ‘racism’.
“Waiting for the pathetic explanation.”
Newman has courted controversy several times inn 2020 thanks to a series of tone-deaf statements, including labelling US man George Floyd, who was killed by police, a ‘piece of s***’.
He and his fellow podcast hosts Don Scott and Mike Sheahan also reached a legal settlement with St Kilda legend Nicky Winmar and veteran football photographer Wayne Ludbey after disparaging the pair during a recent episode.
AFL criticised over vaccination bungle
The AFL later issued an apology for their failure to notify the appropriate parties about the vaccination earlier.
"The AFL apologises to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players and staff and the AFLPA for not providing sufficient clarity around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players receiving a pneumococcal vaccination ahead of entering Queensland and for any distress this has caused them and their families," the statement said.
"The AFL acknowledges it could have obtained and shared more information from the Queensland Government health authorities regarding the vaccination including the underlying health safety benefits and that it can improve its processes in providing information to support club doctors in ensuring cultural safety in provision of health to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
"The AFL is committed to working closely with the AFLPA and the players, our clubs and our doctors to resolve the situation."
It remains unclear what will occur if a player rejects the extra jab.
Players inside hubs are subject to strict coronavirus mitigation protocols, put in place by the AFL, and are regularly tested.
The AFL is relying on teams to enter isolation hubs to keep the season going as the global pandemic continues.
Victorian clubs had been promised they would be away from home for a maximum of 32 days but the league is working with the AFLPA to extend that out to as much as 10 weeks as a result of the state's worsened COVID-19 situation.