The NRL has supported two female footballers who were photographed kissing after the inaugural women’s State of Origin match in Sydney on Friday night.
The viral photo of players Karina Brown, who played for the Queensland side, and Vanessa Foliaki, who played for New South Wales, was posted to the NRL’s social media accounts after the match to a mixed reponse.
Many were thrilled with the couple’s display of affection on the field, but others criticised the NRL for publishing the snap, which has been shared more than 3000 times.
In response to one commenter who suggested there would be “public outrage if two blokes kissed exactly like that after an Origin,” the NRL’s Facebook moderator replied, “Welcome to 2018… can’t wait for you to join us!”
The NRL hit back at another commenter who accused the league of “sexualising the women’s league” by noting male Origin stars are regularly photographed with their partners after matches.
“If we can post a [photo] of Cooper Cronk and his wife Tara kissing, then we can share a photo of Karina Brown and Ness Foliaki sharing a moment too,” the NRL wrote.
The couple have been together since 2014, and are usually teammates for the national Jillaroos rugby league team but faced off against each other for the Origin match.
Foliaki said the women’s league community had been supportive.
“Everyone wants us to get married,” she told NRL.com.
“I think it’s more accepted now and the Jillaroos make it feel like home.
“The coaching staff are supportive. We’re feeling all the love.”
Earlier in the week the NRL received the Highest Ranking National Sporting Organisation award at the inagurual Pride in Sport Awards, recognising the league’s efforts to make the sport more inclusive of LGBTIQ people.
(Photo by NRL via Facebook)