AFL players will be BANNED from games unless they are vaccinated against Covid in controversial ‘no jab, no play’ policy
- AFL has ruled all players across men’s and women’s leagues must get Covid jab
- Rule means AFL is first top-level sporting code to bring in mandatory vaccines
The AFL has announced a bombshell vaccine mandate requiring all players across both the men’s and women’s competitions to get a Covid jab or be barred from taking the field.
The ruling announced on Thursday afternoon means the AFL is the first top tier sporting code in Australia to make Covid vaccines compulsory.
Both AFL and AFLW players along with club staff such as coaches and trainers must be fully vaccinated by the start of the upcoming season.
The shock mandate comes after premiership winning Melbourne player Tom McDonald sparked a furious backlash by angrily opposing Victorian Premier Dan Andrews’ widespread Covid vaccine mandate for a range of industries.
The Melbourne Demons full forward – who is fully vaccinated himself – branded it ‘ethically wrong’ and ‘unnecessary’ when he spoke to the media on Tuesday.
Premiership-winning full forward Tom McDonald, pictured here with wife Ruby, is fully vaccinated himself but branded compulsory vaccination ‘ethically wrong’ and ‘unnecessary’
McDonald was part of the Melbourne side to break a 57-year drought by winning the 2021 AFL Premiership played in Perth (pictured)
McDonald hit out after Adelaide Crows AFLW star – and intensive care unit nurse – Deni Varnhagen said she was refusing to get vaccinated, putting her career in jeopardy.
McDonald’s comments provoked an angry online debate, with his comments coming under fire from other players, other sport stars, and commentators.
But some fans agreed with his stance against vaccine mandates, including some who were themselves immunised.
‘It’s not a necessity, it’s been mandated on players and forced if you want to keep your job,’ McDonald, 29, said in the controversial question and answer session.
‘I’m vaccinated, and most players would’ve been, but to be honest I think it’s ethically wrong to force people into a medical procedure.
‘I think we would’ve got 90 per cent as a state anyway. I don’t see why we need to cause such issues and division by forcing people in many jobs where it’s probably not as necessary.
‘I understand aged care and health care and those sort of things but I feel it’s a bit heavy-handed at the moment.’
AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan (pictured) has brought in a vaccine mandate for both the AFL and AFLW competitions requiring players to be fully jabbed by the start at the season
McDonald said he would be happy to play with teammates or against rivals who refused to get the jab.
‘No issue at all, that’s why you get vaccinated, you protect yourself,’ he added. ‘I don’t understand why we need force other players to,’ he said.
There was previously speculation the AFL would make vaccines compulsory, with the league’s bosses on Thursday confirming they had reached an agreement with the AFL Player’s Association.
‘The policy will require all AFL and AFLW players and football program staff to be vaccinated in advance of the start of the AFL and AFLW seasons according to a progressive schedule,’ they said via a statement.
They added there would be an ‘extensive’ player education program around the vaccinations and they would continue to work with AFLPA during the rollout.