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Top Five Of 2021: AFL

AFL Grand Final 2021 Perth Melbourne Demons

Top Five Of 2021: AFL

As we head towards the end of 2021 and Australian sport has its eyes set on 2022, Ministry of Sport will reflect on the top five stories across major codes and categories for the year, starting with the AFL.

5 – Collingwood’s Systemic Racism:

2021 was not a good year for Collingwood’s front office, with Club president Eddie McGuire stepping down, after reports found a culture of systemic racism under his leadership.

Yet, his replacement Mark Korda, was met with just as much controversy.

Under his new leadership, Korda saw the Collingwood board re-elected in the hopes of making the club more modern and in line with contemporary values, yet some believe this was not enough after years of abuse.

The independent review by the University of Technology in Sydney, found the club did indeed have a culture of systemic racism, providing a catalyst for change within the AFL.

This led to a major inquiry into the culture of AFL clubs, and since then the AFL has become more involved in tackling racism within the club.

4 – Concussion and the AFL:

At beginning of 2021, the AFL acknowledged more needed to be done to protect athletes from concussion and CTE.

Concussions and CTE have been a major concern for the sport, especially after it was revealed former AFL star, Danny Frawley, had CTE from continuous blows to the head.

In April, before the 2021 season kicked off, the AFL made the historic decision to appoint Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health associate professor, Catherine Willmott, as head of concussion and innovation research and Monash Health’s Rachel Elliot as head of concussion and healthcare governance.

In 2021 the AFL wanted to ensure players remained safe and ensured, players who suffered head injuries only went back to training with their doctor’s approval.

3 – COVID-19 Disruptions:

2021 saw major disruptions for most sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the AFL was no exception.

With Western Australia’s hard border and strict lockdown measures, the beginning of the season caused major fixture disruptions.

After all 18 clubs were forced to migrate to Victoria, the State was hit with another COVID-19 outbreak, with both teams and the Grand Final forced to be played in other states.

Queensland was also hit with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks forcing many sporting events to be delayed.

The season finished with the Demons and Bulldogs facing off in Perth for the 2021 Grand Final.

2021 also saw the compulsory vaccination of all AFL staff and athletes against COVID-19, a highly controversial topic, which led to a loss of some staff and athletes.

2 – COVID-19 Financial Impact:

Just like the physical disruptions, COVID-19 bought about financial issues for the sport.

AFL athletes had a 29.17% decrease in pay after the AFL had to make cuts after the 2020 losses.

Early in the year, it was revealed in 2020 alone, the AFL lost $22.8 million in operating losses due to COVID-19restrictions.

1 – Perth Grand Final:

For the second year in a row, COVID-19 saw the AFL Grand Final played away from the MCG.

The AFL’s event of the year was hosted by Perth in September, after Melbourne was in lockdown.

The Grand Final saw a record number of viewers throughout Channel 7’s broadcast of the event.

The event became the most viewed broadcast event of 2021 with 3.9 million views in Australia.

To view all other editions of the Ministry of Sport 2021 in review series, click here, otherwise, keep an eye out on the Ministry of Sport website and social media channels for the next release in the series.

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