A former Players’ Association manager has said the Australian Football League (AFL) dropped its campaign to tackle homophobia in the sport because of a controversial article by past AFL star Jason Akermanis.

Pippa Grange, former manager of culture and leadership for the AFL Players’ Association, told the Sunday Age it was “a real lowlight” when the campaign faltered.

In 2010, Akermanis penned a newspaper column for the Herald Sun titled ‘Stay in the closet’.

In the article, Akermanis advised any gay AFL players considering coming out to “forget it”, saying it could “break the fabric of the club”.

“It was put to bed as a ‘too hard’ topic after being opened up,” Grange said.

“It wasn’t closed down by the AFL as such but it went to the bottom of a very long list of things that the AFL are asked to work on.”

Grange said she was disappointed something positive hadn’t been achieved on the issue.

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