AFL Women’s star Tayla Harris has admitted to fearing for her safety after abusive and sexist comments were posted to a photo of her kicking a ball during a match.
The photo of the Carlton star was shared to the 7AFL Facebook and Twitter accounts but was promptly deleted after it attracted an onslaught of repulsive comments.
AFL circles and leading female sportswomen condemned 7AFL’s decision to delete the image, prompting them to re-upload it.
However, Harris has come forward to voice her concern that the trolls who made the initial comments might target her in the flesh.
“These people are behind screens now but no one’s saying they aren’t going to show up at the footy at the weekend,” she said on Wednesday.
“I genuinely consider that they might show up at the footy. If they’re thinking this way and able to write it down, what are they going to do when I’m on sideline meeting some kids – that’s what I’m going to have to think about now.
“As much it shouldn’t be the case at all, that’s the reality of it.”
— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) March 20, 2019
Following Wednesday’s press conference, the AFL has reportedly vowed to put an end to vile trolling and has called for tighter controls to combat online abuse.
Some of the biggest names in sport, entertainment and politics have come forward to support for the change.
It’s believed that the AFL integrity unit has joined forces with Channel 7 to identify the perpetrators and potentially ban them from all future games.
The image – which was captured in a match against the Western Bulldogs – prompted support from across the country, prompting 7AFL to release a statement.
“The original purpose in publishing the image was to celebrate the power, athleticism and skills on show in Carlton’s thrilling win over the Western Bulldogs,” they said in a statement.
“The image attracted a number of comments, some of which were inappropriate and offensive. As a consequence we have removed the image and the comments.”
— 7AFL (@7AFL) March 19, 2019
Her Carlton teammate Darcy Vescio posted: “Deleting this post is giving into trolls. Also you’re eliminating all the positive conversation. Also you’re removing more content around women in sport.”
Deleting the post is giving in to trolls. Also, you’re eliminating all the positive conversation. Also, you’re removing more content around women in sport – which there’s already so little of.
— Darcy Vescio (@darcyvee) March 19, 2019
What a star!