Family visits a sore point in AFL quarantine plans


Supporters cheer on Essendon at an AFL match. Photo: Hunter Nield (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Some Australian Rules football players say they’ll stand down if their families aren’t able to visit them in the quarantined hubs the AFL is planning, to restart the 2020 season.

Under the plan, players would spend eight weeks in one hub before a week with their families at home, and return to a second hub to finish the season.

Players are looking at a maximum of twenty weeks in isolation depending on how far a club progresses through the finals.

The AFL decided to suspend its season until May 31, and cancel all remaining fixtures of the women’s competition, in response to the COVID 19 outbreak and following restrictions put in place by state and federal governments that limits all non-essential travel in Australia.

The suspension took place after the final Round 1 game between West Coast and Melbourne, with both the Eagles and Demons players being told shortly after about the temporary stop to the season.

“Our industry provides livelihoods for thousands and thousands of people,” AFL CEO Gil McLachlan told the media. “Our key priority is to do everything possible to keep players, staff, and supporters healthy and well through this pandemic.”

While only a couple of weeks out from ending the 2020 season, the AFLW competition was nullified completely.

Having just concluded the semi-finals (with North Melbourne, GWS, Fremantle and Carlton all prevailing) no 2020 AFLW Premiership cup was handed out.

With the Fremantle womens team going undefeated, Dockers captain, Kara Antonio, said she had come to terms with the decision, telling Womens.AFL she understood how the coronavirus problem was bigger than football.

The largest toll on the game will stem from the financial loss of the TV and sponsorship revenue the game produces every year, and there have already been talk of how the less supported clubs, such as North Melbourne and St Kilda will survive such a financial hit.

Brisbane Lions Chief Gregg Swann has come out and stated the Lions will lose up to $AU5million, just from the first few rounds alone being played behind closed doors, with no fans.

The AFL says it is looking at every option to support players mentally and socially from the strain of being separated from their loved ones.

It’s expected to announce the location of the quarantine hubs this week.