Tayla Harris will keep on kicking. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Tayla Harris will keep on kicking. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

AFLW photo controversy goes global

It certainly wasn't her intention but Tayla Harris has taken AFLW global.

Everyone from the New York Post to the Irish Times to the Calgary Sun are carrying the story of the Carlton Blues star's stand against online trolls.

A photo of Harris in full flight posted by Channel 7 was pulled down by the network after it attracted offensive comments. The network later re-posted the picture and offered an apology but not before the photograph became an agent for change.

"This isn't about these athletes not being able to handle criticism. It is not about the right to voice opinions about the game. These comments are not criticism. They are not about the game.

"They are misogynist, targeted attacks that strip the power from these athletes who put their bodies on the line to play the game they love. Their bodies are then reduced to abhorrent and unmoderated comments of people whose power is elevated when they cause change in this way," wrote Kasey Symons in the Irish Times.

Tayla Harris was the most read story on the New York Post on Thursday morning.
Tayla Harris was the most read story on the New York Post on Thursday morning.

"The removal of these posts does not punish the perpetrators. It punishes the people that are the focus of them.

"By not moderating, blocking and reporting the people behind these keyboards, these athletes begin to learn they are not worth the fight.

"That message permeates through the corners of society, and the internet, and allows the trolls to continue, leaving the athletes to fight the battle."

In Melbourne, the Herald Sun celebrated Harris - and the photograph - by inserting it in poster form in Thursday's edition.

Tayla Harris. (AAP Image/James Ross)
Tayla Harris. (AAP Image/James Ross)

Harris hopes her stand will be the catalyst for change. "If I can stand up here and say something about it and start the conversation ... if that helps one person or heaps of people then that's what I want to do," Harris said at Ikon Park on Wednesday.

"I'm fine with people commenting on and critiquing my football, I understand that is the football beast, but it's the comments that are severely inappropriate, comments that my family will read ...

"The support that has come from this has been phenomenal. I think that has shut down anyone who would have made a comment ... I hope they'd be thinking 'I've mucked up here' and hopefully they won't do it again. That's all you can really ask."



Earlier on Wednesday, Harris described the comments as "sexual abuse" in a radio interview on RSN.

Federal Minister for Women Kelly O'Dwyer said she was "disgusted" by the trolling.

"We need to out these trolls. We need to out these people who would seek to make misogynist comments about women," O'Dwyer told reporters in Melbourne.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the problem wasn't just an issue for Seven, a broadcast partner of the AFL, or the football code.

"It's more a challenge with the platform, social media, because this is not an isolated incident," McLachlan told reporters in Sydney. "But when it's unacceptable commentary, more and more people are calling that out and that is what has happened here."

- with AAP