'Free the Flag Campaign': Sad image missing from AFL jumper
All 18 AFL clubs have released images of their Indigenous-inspired jumpers for the 2020 Sir Doug Nicholls Round, beginning on Friday.
The AFL's annual Indigenous round has become the very high profile battleground for a copyright dispute that has raged for two years.
The AFL confirmed earlier this week the Aboriginal flag will not be displayed on the centre circle during this year's Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round
Instead, the word "Deadly" will be displayed on the centre circle, along with the name of the ground's local Indigenous population.
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WAM Clothing purchased the copyright licence to the Aboriginal flag design in 2018 and has launched a crackdown on its use by reportedly demanding commercial fees and issuing several cease and desist letters to Indigenous groups selling products featuring the red, yellow and black flag.
Indigenous-owned clothing label Clothing the Gap which promises to pass on 100 per cent of profits to Indigenous health and education programs has led the campaign to reclaim the flag and on Thursday night took to Twitter to announce 14 of the 18 AFL clubs have registered their support.
In a post on Twitter, Clothing the Gap said every club other than Essendon, Gold Coast, Richmond and Port Adelaide had registered their support for the #freetheflag campaign.
Thank you to @CollingwoodFC @stkildafc @westernbulldogs @GWSGIANTS @brisbanelions @sydneyswans @GeelongCats @Adelaide_FC @WestCoastEagles @CarltonFC @HawthornFC @NMFCOfficial @melbournefc and @freodockers for standing with the #freetheflag campaign. pic.twitter.com/HdDZ9cNJTG— clothingthegap (@clothingthegap) August 20, 2020
The copyright war has extended to the AFL club's Indigenous jumpers this year with all clubs forced to omit the flag from their designs this year.
It comes after WAM came under fire earlier this year when Sydney Swans superstar Lance Franklin pulled his clothing range after he was accused of ripping off the Aboriginal community.
"I have been deeply disturbed by comments targeting me about the use of the Aboriginal flag on T-shirts we produced through the only licensed and legal avenue, being through WAM clothing, and in doing so, with full and due respect to the artist, Harold Thomas," Franklin said in a statement in June.
Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round commences on Friday with the Gold Coast Suns taking on Carlton at TIO Stadium in the Northern Territory. The jewel in the crown of the iconic round will be the Dreamtime clash between Richmond and Essendon which will for the first time take place in Darwin as a result of coronavirus restrictions.
The dispute has overshadowed the celebration of Indigenous culture and its place in the very fabric of Aussie rules football.
"It's really disappointing that it's gone down this path," Hawthorn legend Shaun Burgoyne told Fox Footy's AFL 360 on Thursday.
"The flag I believe should belong to the people. It should be for all the people to enjoy.
"The Aboriginal flag should be for everyone."
Former Sydney Swans player Tony Armstrong told the ABC: "The Indigenous playing cohort are all incredibly proud of their heritage and this round is one they all circle as soon as the fixture comes out.
"For Aboriginal people, the flag means everything. It is more than a flag - it is a symbol of pride, love and identity."
The 2020 Indigenous jumpers have again inspired footy supporters and been received with widespread applause - even though they will be missing the flag this year.
The Bulldogs have since removed the flag from their jumpers for this weekend.
Originally published as Sad image missing from AFL jumper