Perth Mayor Basil Zempilas has come under fire for suggesting that spectators at Saturday’s AFL Grand final applaud their locked-down compatriots on the east coast.
“In the first quarter of the AFL Grand Final, we’re asking everyone in the stadium to stand for one minute and applaud – a nod to our friends around the country who are doing it tough and to let them know we’re with them in this difficult time,” Zempilas, who is also a Channel Seven sports commentator, posted on Twitter on Friday morning.
“Let’s do it WA.”
TOMORROW @OptusStadium – 20.21 in the first quarter #AFLGF
– we’re asking everyone in the stadium to stand for one minute and applaud – a nod to our friends around the country who are doing it tough & to let them know we’re with them in this difficult time. Let’s do it WA 👏💪🏆
— Basil Zempilas (@BasilZempilas) September 23, 2021
Zempilas’ suggestion comes as WA Premier Mark McGowan presides over the strictest border controls in the country.
The border situation caused countless Twitter users to accuse Zempilas of being out of touch with people in locked-down areas such as Melbourne.
“To anyone at the Grand Final tomorrow, we beg of you – please do not do this,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Enjoy your beers whilst watching the footy in a place different to your lounge room.”
Another person described the proposal as a “horses—t idea”.
“I couldn’t go to Perth last year for my grandmother’s funeral. My brother and nieces haven’t met my almost 2-year-old son,” they wrote on Twitter.
“WA’s borders are constantly closed off to the rest. Don’t give us the ‘We are all in this together’ crap.”
Plenty of others, including many sports commentators, also hit back at Zempilas’ “patronising” suggestion.
Australia's a very fractured country right now. But it's been nice to see everyone united against this terrible idea. https://t.co/sgFTMm6luk
— Vince Rugari (@VinceRugari) September 24, 2021
[narrator’s voice] it was not powerful it was absolutely cringe and not a single person outside WA wanted or asked for this performative nonsense https://t.co/octUxbVvRt
— Steve Smith (@stevesmithffx) September 24, 2021
Please. God. NO. @AFL
— Catherine Murphy (@CathMurphySport) September 24, 2021
Assuming any protests we see today is solely motivated to prevent this https://t.co/rFGv6MGz28
— Scott (@RestingPlayers) September 24, 2021
The Perth match at Optus Stadium marks the second year in a row that the Grand Final was held away from the MCG, with last year’s match being held at The Gabba in Brisbane.
In return, the MCG’s contract was extended for another year, meaning it will host every AFL Grand Final until at least 2059, assuming the pandemic doesn’t get in the way.