Play On! The Hidden History of Women’s Australian Rules Football
Brunette Lenkić and Rob Hess
Echo Publishing
2016, 324 pages

In a landmark development, the first national women’s Australian Football competition — AFL Women’s — will be launched next February. But a century ago, attitudes to women playing the game were very different.

Pitched Battle: In the Frontline of the 1971 Springbok Tour of Australia
By Larry Writer
Melbourne, 2016
336pp, $35.00

“Sport and politics don’t mix” is often heard from politicians and media commentators when people target sporting events in acts of protest or athletes use their chosen sports to make political statement — for example Muhammad Ali and, more recently, US NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

However, sport is often politicised in many different ways by the ruling class to reinforce the status quo.

In a dramatic depiction of the vast differences in resources and respect between men’s and women’s sport, a report by the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has laid bare the woeful pay and conditions for W-League football (soccer) players.

AAP reported on September 23 that he report by the PFA, the union representing Australian footballers, surveyed almost two-thirds of W-League players last season. The report suggests players could walk away from the game because of the financial strain.

Kurdish footballer Deniz Naki has been indicted by a Turkish court on “terrorist propaganda” charges for sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter about Turkey’s destruction of Kurdish cities and killing of civilians and militants.

Naki, who plays as a striker and playmaker for Kurdish team Amedspor, in Turkey’s Second League, will face up to five years in prison if found guilty. Amedspor are based in Diyarbakır, the unofficial capital of Turkish Kurdistan.

 The protests by professional sports players in the United States during “The Star-Spangled Banner” have spread since NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked the controversial movement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in August by refusing to stand for the anthem before games. The protests have spread, with other NFL players joining in as well as sportspeople from soccer and volleyball.

Miami Dolphins kneel during national anthem on September 11.

On September 11 in the United States, a small group of National Football League players risked their careers, their endorsements and their livelihoods. They did so through the simple act of refusal.

“There is a saying amongst them that all cops are bastards,” Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm said on November 3 about the attitude of many fans of the Western Sydney Wanderers football (soccer) team towards the police force. “The cops have earned that label, they have to un-earn it.”

Rafael “Rafucko” Puetter is a Rio-based artist and activist who put together an “Olympic anti-souvenir shop” to highlight the injustices that arrive with the summer games.

Fans at Olympic women's soccer hold “Fora Temer” (“Temer out”) signs. August 6.

Jorge Knijnik is a researcher at the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney, and specialist in sport and social justice issues.

The US’s first Black swimmer to win a gold medal, Simone Manuel, dedicated her win to ending police brutality on August 11. Manuel tied with Penny Oleksiak from Canada at 52:70 to win gold in the 100 metre freestyle race at the Rio games that day.


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