Angry reaction as AFL breaks Grand Final promise: ‘Completely unnecessary’

So much for a Voice-free Grand Final day.

Footy fans have reacted with frustration after the referendum that’s dividing the nation crept into the pre-game entertainment on the AFL’s big day at the MCG.

Melbourne-based Indigenous singer-songwriter Jess Hitchcock paired with Australia’s leading didgeridoo player William Barton for a captivating rendition of Waltzing Matilda before the match between Collingwood and the Brisbane Lions.

And while their performance was well-received by the audience, Hitchcock’s outfit rankled viewers at home.

She had the word “Yes” printed in bright pink lettering across her midsection in what appeared to be a clear bit of direction to Aussies on how to approach the October 14 poll.

“Boo on the #AFL pushing their “Yes” Vote narrative for #TheVoice Referendum with this terrible rendition of Waltzing Matilda. Completely unnecessary,” tweeted Jerry Massey.

“Worst rendition of Waltzing Matilda ever! And you allowed them to promote the Yes voice again. Typically AFL you can’t help yourself,” wrote another.

“So an Aboriginal version of an Aussie classic Waltzing Matilda. Another song ruined while she wears her political statement for the Yes campaign,” added a third.

Others were ready to defend Hitchcock’s move.

“All the triggered pea hearts losing their shallow minds over indigenous Australia’s singing Waltzing Matilda while she wore a Yes dress. Just because you stay in school doesn’t mean you are educated,” one tweeted.

The AFL had reportedly ruled out promoting the Voice on grand final day after the league commission warned against an eleventh hour push.

Both the AFL and NRL declared in May support for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum, with grand finals for both codes to take place before the October 14 vote.

Nine papers reported earlier this month top government officials expected the events to deliver the Yes campaign’s message to millions of viewers.

But an AFL spokesman told Nine newspapers the country’s biggest sporting body had declined to run Voice displays on game day.

The directive from the commission reportedly was that the AFL would not be actively campaigning during the September finals series.

High-level sources familiar with the commission’s decision said clubs and individual players would still be free to do so, if they chose.

Yes campaign sources told Nine a grand final day push could risk a backlash from fans who did not support the mixing of sport and politics.

“People just want to watch the footy,” one of the sources told Nine, while another said the AFL’s decision would not be breached.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has previously hit out at so-called “elites” in the AFL and NRL over their public support for the Yes campaign earlier this year.

“Their fans are really scratching their head as to why the elites within the sport (…) are taking a position in to the Voice,” Mr Dutton said.

The Voice campaign has garnered support from multiple high-profile current and former players, including Essendon’s Michael Long.

— with NCA NewsWire

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