AFLW 2022: West Eagles coach Michael Prior slammed for pride jumper remarks

AFLW coach Michael Prior is copping backlash for comments regarding his club’s decision not to wear a pride jumper this season.

West Coast Eagles AFLW coach Michael Prior is copping backlash for comments regarding the club’s decision not to wear a pride jumper this season.

Round 3 of the AFLW season will recognise the LGBTQIA+ community, with 13 out of the 14 clubs wearing a pride jumper to mark the occasion.

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But the Eagles are the only team that have not designed a themed jersey, despite several core players identifying as LGBTQIA+.

However, West Coast’s players will wear a pride training singlet and rainbow socks during the warm-up for their clash against the Adelaide Crows on Saturday.

Speaking to The West Australian, Prior refused to comment on the club’s decision not to wear a pride jumper.

“I’ve got a simple view. That’s not my role. I talk about footy, not what we’re wearing,” he told the publication.

“I think we’ve done the pride stuff to death to be honest.

“I want to talk about the footy, not the jumper.”

Prior’s remarks were met with heavy criticism from within the footy community.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Vince Rugari tweeted: “Yikes. Good luck with all that Eagles fans.”

AAP’s Michael Ramsey posted: “Incredibly disappointing.”

Former Collingwood star Meg Hutchins tweeted: “Feeling for his players right about now! What an imbecile!”

AAP reporter Oliver Caffrey posted: “Even if you deep down don’t care, you’ve got to publicly get behind something your players do deeply care about. It’s called being a leader.”

Eagles defender Belinda Smith told the AFL players association: “The LGBTQI+ community has given so much to women’s football throughout our short history.

“We wouldn’t be playing today if it wasn’t for their pioneering efforts and pure passion for the game.”

North Melbourne captain Emma Kearney told reporters: “I don’t want to put words into their mouths, but I’m sure the West Coast Eagles players who are LGBTQIA+ would be feeling disappointed that they can’t run out in a jumper representing who they are.

“I’m really pleased that 13 of the 14 clubs have really embraced pride round and they all have a story behind their jumpers and it’s really important to share those stories.”

West Coast general manager of community and game development Richard O’Connnell said the club was conscious of not rushing the process for designing a pride jumper and was focusing this season on releasing its AFLW Indigenous jumper.

“Our intention for specially designed jumpers is to make sure it has enough space and time for us to be able to promote, educate and inform,” O’Connell told The West Australian.

“Our ambition is to do one each year rather than put two in at the same time.

“We’re very comfortable with the fact we’re taking a very patient approach to introducing new playing kit during our early years.

“We’re not going to rush that process because we want the introduction of a playing guernsey to be important to the club’s history and for when you look back in time. We want to do it properly and respectfully and that will take some time to do.”

O’Connell said the players were comfortable with the decision and the Eagles would have a Pride guernsey next season.

“They understand the process we’re following and they’re comfortable with the plan we’ve put in place,” he said.

“While we may not run out with a pride jumper this weekend, we’ve certainly been acknowledging it with the activities and training the players have been undertaking.”

The Eagles are currently 11th on the ladder, searching for their first win of the season following losses to Fremantle and Gold Coast.

Originally published as ‘What an imbecile’: AFLW coach Michael Prior slammed for pride jumper remarks

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