Football Australia takes action over furore surrounding AFL photo

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Marcus Rashford is pictured clutching a Sherrin on the left, and with a group of players from rival Melbourne sporting codes on the right.
Manchester United star Marcus Rashford was pictured holding a Sherrin and with players from rival codes, in a move that angered football fans. Pictures: Twitter/Getty Images

Football Australia is reportedly considering tightening the agreements it makes with overseas clubs touring Australia after a picture of Manchester United star Marcus Rashford sparked outrage.

The English football giant's tour of Australia got off to an inauspicious start after Rashford, who was participating in promotional shoots for the three-match exhibition series, was pictured holding a Sherrin rather than a football.

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Another press photo saw Rashford flanked by representatives from almost every major Melbourne sporting code - the AFL, BBL, NBL and Super Netball - but with the A-League mysteriously absent.

Melbourne Victory skipper Josh Brillante was actually present for the promotional event, but was not in the picture that was widely seen in the press.

Images of Rashford with the Sherrin sparked a massive backlash, with football fans questioning why the game's custodians in Australia would allow an international icon to essentially promote a rival sporting code.

According to The Age's Vince Rugari, Football Australia is determined to avoid such a situation happening again in the future, vowing not to sign off on big exhibition matches unless promoters and clubs agree to promote matches through local and grassroots football clubs.

Press plans will also be subject to increased scrutiny under what Rugari referred to as a 'no Sherrin rule'.

The furore around Rashford's press appearances was kicked off when former SBS fottball commentator Lucy Zelic pointed out the image on Twitter.

“Can someone tell me what the point of this is,” Zelic wrote.

“Is Marcus suddenly going to switch codes and sign for an AFL side? Go and pat a koala, meet with proud members of our Indigenous communities and spend time with grassroots FOOTBALL clubs. This is just f**king embarrassing.

“This is a blatant PR exercise that Marcus was told to do, nothing more, nothing less. Cross-code promotions are a waste of time. They should be appealing to FOOTBALL fans.

“As a code, the AFL and its representatives have done nothing but s*** on football time and time again.

"Who could forget in 09’ when we bid for the WC and [former AFL CEO Andrew] Demetriou refused to give up Etihad for an INTERNATIONAL tournament. Agreeing to be apart of this stupidity is just insulting.”

Manchester United, Liverpool and Crystal Palace have all embarked on pre-season tours in Australia.

Manchester United overpower Crystal Palace in MCG special

Anthony Martial has continued his strong start to Manchester United's pre-season, scoring for the third straight game as the Red Devils secured a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at the MCG.

Martial volleyed home in the 18th minute on Tuesday night, adding to goals scored against Liverpool and Melbourne Victory in previous exhibition hitouts.

Slicing the Palace defence apart with ease, United then increased their lead through Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho in the second stanza, before Joel Ward struck back for Palace.

It's a strong start to life under new United coach Erik ten Hag for Martial, who ended the 2021-22 campaign loaned out to Spanish club Sevilla.

Despite his side's third-straight pre-season win, though, the night was not as happy an occasion for United captain Harry Maguire, who was booed by his own fans whenever he touched the ball across the opening half hour.

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes is pictured trying to evade a Crystal Palace defender.
Manchester United were too strong for Crystal Palace in Melbourne earlier this week, claiming a 3-1 victory. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

The 29-year-old received a less hostile reception during his side's 4-1 win over Victory at the same venue days prior but was previously booed by United fans during the last Premier League season.

Despite the jeers, the defender who was backed by ten Hag the day prior, played a stout game and by the time the second half commenced the taunts had vanished.

Martial opened the scoring after being found with a cross from Diogo Dalot, chesting down the ball and volleying past Remi Mathews, who had replaced Jack Butland minutes prior after the Palace keeper injured his hand.

Mathews was then rendered helpless in the second half when Martial, Jadon Sancho and Donny van de Beek set Rashford up to score in the 49th before Rashford and Martial combined to put Sancho through to score on the hour.

Both sides rotating heavily before Ward struck from a Luka Milivojevic corner in the 74th to drag it back to 3-1.

With AAP

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