Western Sydney AFLW player Haneen Zreika has withdrawn from her club’s Pride Round match on Friday after refusing to wear the team’s pride guernsey on religious grounds.
The AFLW’s Pride Round began last week, with players wearing rainbow-coloured gear to celebrate inclusion, diversity and the sport’s LGBTIQ+ players and spectators.
On Friday afternoon, the Greater Western Sydney Giants will wear their pride guernseys in their match with the Western Bulldogs.
But The Age reported Giants player Haneen Zreika, who is Muslim, had been “grappling all week” with whether or not to wear the jumper on Friday.
She decided she “could not wear the club’s pride jumper for religious reasons,” the publication reported.
The Age reported Zreika had “explained her reasons to her Giants teammates, who are understanding of the position she is in and accept that she supports them on a personal level.”
The AFLW, the Giants and Zreika have not publicly commented on the decision, which has subsequently sparked debate online.
The Giants said only in a team announcement that Zreika “won’t play for personal reasons”.
The 22-year-old was the AFLW’s first Muslim player and the Giants’ first player of Lebanese descent. She made her debut in 2019.
Zreika played in her club’s Pride Round match last year. But that season the club did not produce rainbow-coloured guernseys for players to wear.
The Greater Western Sydney Giants unveiled the 2022 pride guernsey last week.
“It’s so important and such a big step for our club and our supporters,” player Rebecca Privitelli said on January 19.
“I know our girls are really excited to pull on the jumper. It’s a big part of all our lives and I hope our fans feel the same way.
“There’s a lot of young boys and girls out there that need role models to look up to.
“I think the AFLW are doing an incredible thing to give young women and men that opportunity.”
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