The AFL backtracks and says national flags ARE allowed at games after league’s head of security said young fan should have had Israeli flag confiscated in show of support for Harry Sheezel
- Harry Sheezel took a picture with a young fan holding an Israeli flag on Saturday
- The AFL said under its rules the flag should have been confiscated
- League has rowed back on its stance and will allow national flags at games
Harry Sheezel’s outstanding debut has inadvertently sparked controversy around whether national flags are allowed inside AFL venues.
The North Melbourne young gun is Jewish and a photograph was taken of him with an Israel national flag in the background after he starred in Saturday’s win over West Coast at Marvel Stadium.
There were media reports on Wednesday that an AFL employee, replying to a fan’s query, said national flags were not allowed at games under the conditions of entry.
But the AFL released a statement, saying that is wrong and the league has no problem with national flags in the crowd during games.
‘An AFL match day is a place for everyone, we want fans to celebrate their clubs and players, and if that includes displaying national flags that amplify any of their team’s player heritage then the AFL is fully supportive,’ the league said.
Harry Sheezel (middle) was pictured taking a photo with a young fan holding an Israeli flag after his AFL debut for the Kangaroos on Saturday at Marvel Stadium
The North Melbourne rookie enjoyed a brilliant debut in the win over West Coast
‘We should celebrate our players and the game any chance we get.
‘For clarity, the AFL has no issue with the flag and signs supporting North Melbourne’s Harry Sheezel on the weekend.
‘Correspondence sent to a patron that had an issue with the flag being displayed was an incorrect interpretation of our conditions of match day entry policy and we apologise for any confusion.’
The AFL added that the conditions of entry regulate flags, signs or banners that have commercial or political messages.
‘The AFL is proud of our diverse and wide-ranging backgrounds, faiths, and origins of all our players and encourage fans to continue to celebrate it accordingly,’ it added.
The move by the AFL comes after the fan of a young fan who flew the Israeli flag at the Kangaroos’ season-opener on Saturday to show support for Sheezel lashed out at the league for saying the symbol should have been confiscated.
According to an email seen by SEN, the AFL admitted that under league rules the flag should have been seized.
Anyone who displayed the symbol and refused to hand it over should have been kicked out of the ground, the league explained.
The AFL said on Wednesday that national flags will be allowed in stadiums from now on
That infuriated the boy’s father, who branded the AFL a ‘joke’ over the issue and said his son got the all clear to bring the flag to the game when he asked police about it beforehand.
‘Not surprising from the AFL. Can they get any more woke and politically correct?’ he said in an interview with 3AW.
‘It’s frustrating, it really is, with all the anti-Semitism that’s going on. […] The AFL just makes up the rules as they go along, they really do.’
The third pick in last year’s national draft, Shezeel is the AFL’s first Jewish player to be drafted this century and signed a two-year deal with North Melbourne.
On Saturday, he earned the Rising Star nomination for his debut as the Kangaroos kicked off the Alastair Clarkson era with a 87-82 win over West Coast.
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