AFL legend slams Aussie cancel culture after calling out-of-shape footy player FAT

AFL commentator Kane Cornes has doubled down on his criticism of West Coast’s Elliot Yeo and has slammed double standards in Australian sport that see pundits accused of ‘fat shaming’ if they criticise a footballer for being out of shape.

Cornes, a former Port Adelaide player, questioned Yeo’s fitness on Channel Nine’s Footy Classified earlier this week after West Coast were hammered 18.9 [117] to 4.9 [33] by Port last Saturday.

‘His standards have slipped at West Coast … I reckon across the board standards have slipped and he shouldn’t playing if he presents like that,’ Cornes said.

Yeo has been struggling with injuries and clearly battled in his side’s loss to Port Adelaide

‘He looked out of shape to me. We used to call it “fat club” [at Port Adelaide] if you’re above 60 skin folds. Once you get into the AFL system your body is your only weapon. You have to hold yourself to elite standards.’

Cornes’ comments opened him up to a raft of criticism, but he reinforced his stance in his column for The West.

Cornes pointed to recent commentary from US basketball analyst Ben Simmons on New Orleans forward Zion Williamson.

‘Why is he gaining weight? Now, if he was in shape, it wouldn’t matter because he’s great but fat Zion, I don’t know,’ Simmons said.

US commentator Bill Simmons called Zion Williamson [right] fat and no one seemed to care

US commentator Bill Simmons called Zion Williamson [right] fat and no one seemed to care

Cornes said there had been no reaction to that commentary.

‘Since the podcast aired there has been no noteworthy complaint or call for Simmons to be cancelled from the airwaves,’ he wrote in his column for The West.

‘It would be a different story if that language was used to describe the appearance of an AFL player, however.

‘Political correctness today ensures any football commentator who criticises the physical condition of an AFL player is met with an immediate backlash and is accused of “fat shaming”.

‘This is wrong. These athletes are not carpenters, dentists or marketing professionals. Their body is vital to ensure they perform effectively for their teams.

‘When a full-time, elite athlete presents in poor shape, teammates, the club and supporters are being let down. This should be called out.’

Cornes has slammed Aussie 'cancel culture' and defended commenting on athletes' weight

Cornes has slammed Aussie ‘cancel culture’ and defended commenting on athletes’ weight

The Eagles have been struggling in the 2022 season with player availability because of strict Covid protocols. West Coast coach Adam Simpson was quick to defend Yeo and outlined the valid reasons why his player might not be at peak condition right now.

‘To be honest I haven’t read anything that Kane Cornes has written or heard anything he’s said, so irrelevant is what comes to my mind about what his opinion is,’ he said.

‘Elliot Yeo has not played football for the last two-and-a-half years, really. He’s had osteitis [pubis], he had a calf injury, he got knocked out at the start of the second quarter, he’s played two games this year.

‘I think that’s a little bit unfair if that’s the criticism on him. He’s played 12-13 games in the last 40. He’s working really hard. I’ll back him and it’s still irrelevant.’

Cornes was having none of those excuses, though, and said Simpson should ‘draw the line’ on Yeo’s fitness.

‘Despite the Eagles being harmed by injuries and Covid protocols, West Coast coach Adam Simpson should have drawn the line on Yeo while the midfielder is in this condition. This is a sign of how far the standards have slipped at West Coast,’ Cornes said.

‘Yeo has missed 22 games through injury since the start of the 2020 season and to get back to his All-Australian best he will need to lose weight, if only to ease the burden to his ailing body.’

It is not the first time Cornes has made controversial statements about a player’s weight. He was accused of fat-shaming Adelaide Crow Tex Walker in 2020, although the two share a long history of bad blood.

He also weighed into the conversation when Gold Coast AFLW player Sarah Perkins made a post on Instagram fighting back against online trolls. 

Cornes said there was no room for trolls in the modern game, but also said discussing the bodies of athletes should not be taboo.

Gold Coast AFLW forward Sarah Perkins has copped a barrage of online abuse over her weight

Gold Coast AFLW forward Sarah Perkins has copped a barrage of online abuse over her weight

‘She shared it, the reaction has been swift and strong and the online trolls have been condemned, as they should be. If you are an anonymous troll online, you are very low in society, you’re pretty low on the food chain,’ Cornes said at the time.

‘That being said, there needs to be an ability to talk about athletes and their bodies when they are full time professional athletes that have one job and that is to prepare yourself and be in the best possible shape.

‘A fitness coach or a coach at an AFL club needs to have the ability to speak strongly to a player who’s not prepared.’