More than 100,000 football fans will watch an anti-homophobia commercial during both AFL Preliminary Finals this weekend.
The No To Homophobia TV commercials (pictured), featuring common situations of homophobic harassment, will be shown during both games held at ANZ Stadium and the MCG after a successful online petition swayed the AFL.
Openly gay Victorian country football player Jason Ball has collected over 25,000 signatures for his online petition for the AFL in less than two weeks.
The Yarra Glen player took a stand this month when he began the petition to convince the AFL to screen the No To Homophobia commercials at this year’s Grand Final.
He said he had spoken directly to the AFL including a call from AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou.
AFL star and Brownlow medalist Jason Akermanis faced a social media backlash this month when he responded to national media coverage of the petition with “Who cares?” on Twitter.
Ball said the screenings were a fantastic step in what will be a long journey.
“To get the No to Homophobia advertisements played at both preliminary finals is a great result – it’s a good first step in making sure the message will be heard loud and clear,” he said.
“But showing an ad won’t end homophobia in the AFL.
“We need a long term commitment to creating a more safe and welcoming environment for gay fans and footy players.”
No To Homophobia spokeswoman Anna Brown said this was a significant commitment to tackling LGBTI harassment and vilification.
“The AFL is one of the most prominent and influential organisations in Australia and we have been impressed by their initial commitment to working with us to address the issue of homophobia in football,” she said.
“Their backing has helped us reach more deeply into the community and playing the ads during the finals means yet more people will hear the message that homophobic harassment does real harm and is never okay.”
Brown also said an announcement would be made before the commercials screen to say the AFL was proud to support the anti-homophobia campaign.
Latest ticket sales for tonight’s Preliminary Final between the Sydney Swans and Collingwood Magpies at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium were estimated at more than 60,000 spectators.
The Saturday game between the Hawthorn Hawks and Adelaide Crows has already sold 50,000 tickets at the MCG.
The No To Homophobia campaign was launched last month and is a project between several Victorian organisations including the ALSO Foundation and Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
Check out the commercial’s below: