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Grateful Blues star praised for AFLW stand

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21st March, 2019
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Tayla Harris has thanked her heavyweight supporters after the AFLW star’s powerful call for change which has disarmed internet nasties and fuelled a possible rebrand for the sport.

Harris has endured a whirlwind 48 hours after a photo, taken by Michael Wilson, of her playing for Carlton had been set upon by online bullies.

The 21-year-old was strident and selfless in calling out the abuse.

“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 on Wednesday at Ikon Park.

Harris succeeded in galvanising support for the causes of de-sexualising images of women in sport and reducing online abuse.

Thousands of fans have voiced their support for Harris in the same online forums previously populated by abusive men.

Fellow AFLW stars, Matildas captain Sam Kerr and even Prime Minister Scott Morrison have backed Harris on social media and in spoken comments.

Kerr took aim at Channel Seven, which deleted the picture in response to the online attack, tweeting “THE PROBLEM WAS NOT THE PHOTO”, before the broadcaster apologised and re-posted the image on social media.

Champion cyclist Anna Meares called the image “incredible”.

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Premiership-winning Adelaide captain Erin Phillips led the support from around the league.

“There is a lot of trolls that get away with things that shouldn’t be allowed,” Phillips said.

“But in saying that, what a fantastic response from the community to get behind Tayla … it has empowered her. And it has shown to the community, to Australia, that it’s unacceptable to troll and put people down.”

One fan went so far as to have the image tattooed on his right arm.

At a media conference on Thursday, the prime minister called the abusers “cowardly grubs who need to wake up to themselves”.

The AFL has also celebrated Harris’ actions, adopting a silhouette of the image in place of the AFLW logo.

Harris responded on Thursday by posting her thoughts on Twitter.

“THANKYOU!! Everyone who messaged, posted, commented and shared recently. Things have changed … if you’re not with us, you will be left behind,” she wrote.

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