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Australian Muslim footballer withdraws from pride match, citing religious reasons

27 Jan, 2022
Haneen Zreika said she won't play in a match because she doesn't want to wear the pride jumper. Apple News
Haneen Zreika said she won't play in a match because she doesn't want to wear the pride jumper. Apple News

Australian football league's first Muslim player said on Thursday that she will not play this year's Pride round as she did not want to wear the jumper created for LGBTQi rights awareness citing 'religious reasons'.

Haneen Zreika will not represent her Giants’ team against the Western Bulldogs on Friday night which will see the teams wear special jumpers celebrating LGBTQi rights.

According to a story in The Daily Mail, between 75 and 80 per cent of the AFLW competition identify as being LGBTQI.

Zreika has told her teammates her decision and the paper reported they have accepted it and recognize that she supports them on a personal level.

Zreika played in the Pride round last year but no one was required to wear a special jumper then. The British tabloid reported that she will not also not feature in any of the promotional material which sees the teams in the same jumper.

Giants has only said Zreika won't be playing for "personal reasons".

Adel Salman, who heads the Islamic Council of Victoria, told The Age that it was a complex issue because the AFL is inclusive and respects all views, no matter how divergent. "I am sure she would be hoping as well, that her club and the AFL community would respect her choices on that matter,' he was quoted in The Age as saying.

Zreika is the first Muslim player of the AFLW who made her debut in 2019, reported the Age.

Of Lebanese descent, she said she had a very supportive family.

"My mum’s pretty easy going for a Muslim and my culture," she told the Age in 2019. "Some girls won’t be allowed to play sport, so I have amazing support from her and my family."

Reactions to Zreika's decision on social media have been mixed.

Many made comparisons between how the media was supporting her decision but not according the same to others.

This was especially true for how many felt towards the treatment allowed to Israel Folau whose homophobic tweets in 2019 caused a lot of outrage.