Why this post-match photo left footy bosses furious after fans spotted players flashing a ‘white supremacist symbol’ – but the footballers insist it’s just a harmless prank
- West Coast Eagles post-match photo has sparked outrage over a hand gesture
- Three players flashed upside down ‘OK’ sign which has links to white supremacy
- Club insists players had no idea gesture had become gesture of ‘white power’
- Traditionally it is related to a schoolyard game where kids punch each other
A post-match photo of the West Coast Eagles AFL team celebrating a victory has gone viral online for all the wrong reasons, with officials insisting it was just a ‘juvenile’ game.
The club was initially oblivious of the behaviour of several stars when the team posed for a photo in the dressing room following their 59 point win against local arch rivals Fremantle Dockers in Perth on Sunday.
The celebratory photo was proudly shared to the club’s social media platforms, where eagle-eyed viewers spotted several players flashing a hand gesture.
It was the same secret gesture, now associated with white supremacy, that Australian mass murderer Brenton Tarrant made during a courtroom appearance in 2019.
Eagles stars Jack Redden, Alex Witherden and Jamaine Jones were pictured making the upside-down three-finger OK gesture, with club bosses saying none of the stars knew it had racist connotations.
The West Coast Eagles proudly shared this post-game photo on social media following Sunday night’s win
Jones later commented on the club’s Instagram post by tagging Redden and Witherden, along with a tears of joy face emoji.
While the gesture is traditionally associated with the schoolyard ‘Circle Game’, the hand signal has also become a ‘white power’ gesture in recent years.
Australian white supremacist Tarrant, who murdered 51 people at two Christchurch mosques in March 2019, flashed the symbol in the dock during an early court appearance.
The Eagles insist the players had no idea about the gesture’s more sinister meaning.
The club says the players were playing the ‘Circle Game’, where person using the symbol tries to get someone to look at it below their waistline, and if they do, punches them in the arm.
Three Eagles stars (circled) were spotted flashing what club officials later described as a ‘juvenile’ hand gesture
‘We have asked questions and it is all to do with the circle game,’ a club spokesperson told The West Australian.
‘It’s juvenile and should not have been a part of the post-game photo.’
Eagles football manager Craig Vozzo told The Age: ‘To be honest I had no idea what the circle game was or that it was a far right or racist symbol, I thought it was an OK symbol.
‘I can tell you the players had no idea at all it was some racist symbol.
‘Of course now we know we will be talking to them and the group to let them know there is another meaning to that symbol. They would be horrified to know that, just as are we. But, seriously, they had no idea.’
Eagles star Tim Kelly described his teammates actions as ‘nothing more than a game’.
‘If you look at it, you get punched — that’s it,’ he told reporters on Monday.
White supremacist Brenton Tarrant (pictured) flashed the hand during an early court appearance in the days following the Christchurch massacre
The photo sparked a mixed reaction from fans.
‘I really hope that hand signal a bunch of them are doing has another meaning, because I’ve seen that hand signal used as a gesture of white supremacy… so maybe ask the lads to quit doing that one?’ one woman suggested
The players donned masks in the photo, which remain mandatory after a Perth hotel quarantine worker and two housemates tested positive to coronavirus on Saturday.
While Perth avoid a second snap lockdown within a week, a sell-out crowd of 60,000 fans were locked out of Sunday’s AFL blockbuster following the latest outbreak.