Controversy erupts over 'embarrassing' detail in Aussie football photo

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Marcus Rashford, pictured here posing for a photo at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Marcus Rashford poses for a photo at AAMI Park in Melbourne. (Photo by CON CHRONIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Aussie football commentator Lucy Zelic has lashed out over a photo of English star Marcus Rashford posing with an AFL ball as part of a cross-code promotion.

Rashford and his Manchester United teammates are in Australia ahead of their clash with Melbourne Victory on Friday night.

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The 24-year-old Rashford took part in a promotional appearance in Melbourne on Thursday, which saw him pose for photos alongside some Aussie sporting stars from different codes.

But one photo of Rashford holding an AFL ball went down like a lead balloon with Zelic.

The former SBS commentator lashed out on Twitter, saying Rashford should be promoting football in Australia - not other sports.

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

“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.”

Marcus Rashford, pictured here posing with athletes from various Melbourne sporting teams.
Marcus Rashford poses with athletes from various Melbourne sporting teams. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Former Football Australia communications boss Bonita Mersiades agreed, writing: “I find it cringeworthy that Marcus Rashford is rolled-out to do a photo call with a bunch of teams he’s likely never heard of.

“For what purpose? The benefit of the other teams? Are their supporters going to go to the exhibition match? And, bottom-line, will their supporters attend A-League games because they were photographed with Marcus Rashford?

"I know our football actually gets to play vs Rashford et al, but I wish our game didn’t feel the need to do this.

“There are PR freelancers and companies with genuine football experience who could do a great job, and who understand that context is important.”

Others were left fuming that there were no A-League men's or women's players at the event, which featured stars from NRL, rugby union, cricket and netball.

Marcus Rashford relishing fresh start under new coach

Rashford told the media he was relishing a 'fresh start' under new coach Erik ten Hag and keen to put a forgettable last season behind him.

The England international had a frustrating and disappointing 2021/22 campaign, dropped by Gareth Southgate from the national team amid a form dip at the Old Trafford club.

But he has been working hard over the English summer and is on his first full pre-season tour since breaking into the senior Red Devils squad.

"For me, it's a fresh start and something I'm looking forward to," he said in Melbourne after a 4-0 win over Liverpool in Bangkok this week.

Manchester United star Marcus Rashford, pictured here speaking at a press conference in Melbourne.
Manchester United star Marcus Rashford speaks at a press conference in Melbourne. (Photo by CON CHRONIS/AFP via Getty Images)

"I'm in a good place right now. I'm just looking forward to getting more games under my belt.

"It's been a bit unnatural for me to have such a long break in the summer, just under four weeks and I could have a break physically and mentally.

"It's massive to have a full pre-season. This is the first year I've been with the team from the beginning and I already feel a lot better.

"I think the first two-and-a-half weeks of training have been good, we're (United) a lot fitter than we were last season and also we're making mistakes along the way so we have a lot of room for improvement."

with agencies

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