The flag will be replaced by the word ‘deadly’ in next weekend’s Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round.
The AFL has confirmed that the Aboriginal flag will not be featured on the ground at this year’s Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round, unlike previous years, and will be replaced by the word ‘deadly’ as well as the name of the local Indigenous population. The Torres Strait Islander flag will still be present.
The Age reported that the decision to remove the Aboriginal flag is related to copyright issues concerning WAM Clothing’s exclusive worldwide copyright license for clothing bearing the flag design.
WAM Clothing, a non-Indigenous business which purchased the license to the flag design in 1971, has sparked controversy in the past for profiting off Aboriginal identity and issuing a cease and desist letter to Aboriginal-owned business Clothing The Gap last year after the brand used the flag on their merchandise.
WAM owner Semele Moore told The Age that, “As with the Indigenous round for 2019, we gave permission to the AFL for the Indigenous players to wear their guernseys on the field with the flag, and there was no issue there whatsoever, and that same permission would have been offered this year as well.”
“If they want to go sell those to the public, that’s when there would have been fees payable,” added Moore.
The decision to not feature the flag at this year’s event has been met with backlash, with Clothing The Gap taking to Instagram to convey their disappointment.
“Mixed emotions about the absence of the Aboriginal Flag from the AFL Indigenous round but, glad that the non-Indigenous company WAM Clothing is not profiting off our (Aboriginal) identity. But, sad that the Aboriginal flag is disappearing from our sporting landscape,” wrote the business.
“Well done to the AFL for not paying to use the Aboriginal flag but, we need you to speak up about why and put pressure on the government too!
“Imagine, AFL used their platform to draw attention to the issue and the #FreeTheFlag movement and replaced the Aboriginal Flag with Free The Flag in centre circle, now that would have been “Deadly”,” they added.
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