Australian PM Scott Morrison angers football fans with phoney Bulldogs support

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Scott Morrison
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Buenos Aires in November 2018. Image: Michel Temer (CC2.0)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison risked angering Australian Rules Football fans today by denying he supports any team in the Australian Football League.

Morrison claims that, as a Rugby League fan from New South Wales, supporting a team from the largely Victoria-based sport would be “inauthentic.”

Problematically for the Prime Minister, he had previously tweeted his support for the AFL club the Western Bulldogs (including lines from the Bulldogs fight song before an important match).

With the Australian federal election just over a month away, voters are asking if Morrison’s recent attempt at authenticity is actually genuine.

Scott Morrison: “I like AFL but I am not a phoney”

Besides being the heartland of Australian Rules Football, Victoria is the second biggest state in Australia. It actually accounts for about a quarter of the country’s total population. Whether they like Australian Rules Football or not, top-tier Australian politicians have always at least pretended to have a favorite AFL team.

During a radio interview with Tony Jones this morning on Melbourne talk radio station 3AW, Morrison referred to the new American phenom Mason Cox who plays for the AFL’s Collingwood. Jones asked Morrison if he was jumping on the Collingwood bandwagon.

“I don’t have a team. My team is the Cronulla Sharks up in Sydney,” the Prime Minister.

The Cronulla Sharks are a Rugby League team. While Rugby League may be the most popular sport in Australia as a whole, it is far from the top sport in the politically important state of Victoria.

Jones was audibly shocked by the admission.

“You have to have an AFL team,” Jones insisted. “I mean, if you’re going to run for the highest office in the land you’ve got to have team.”

Morrison pushed back.

“I like AFL but I am not a phoney,” he explained. “I am not go to going around pretending I am something I am not. I grew up in New South Wales, a suburban boy. I have been following that code ever since I was as kid.

“I am who I am. But when I back something, I am all in. I am never going to be something I am not. I am not going to be inauthentic, what you see is what you get.”

Morrison pretends he is something he is not

Problematically for Morrison, his recent dedication to authenticity is undermined by some of his previous social media output.

In September 2009, in the lead up to a critical AFL semi-final match, he declared his love for the Western Bulldogs in a series of tweets. In one he even quoted lines from the Bulldogs fight song:

Morrison claimed his love for the Dogs stemmed from his friendship with then head coach Rodney Eade, and that “loyalty counts.”

Loyalty may count, but Morrison was willing to switch his support to a more successful team than the Bulldogs less than a decade later.

In October 2018, a few months after assuming office, Morrison prominently wore a West Coast Eagles jersey during much of a three day visit to Western Australia.

Before the trip he had announced he was backing “Perth” in the upcoming Grand Final. This is akin to an American president wearing a New England Patriots jersey and announcing he was supporting “Boston” in the Superbowl.

The renewed focus on Morrison’s social media output in the years before he became Prime Minister is now casting doubt on whether he genuinely prefers any sport at all. Just before the 2012 AFL Grand Final, Morrison admitted the AFL championship was a better spectacle than what Rugby League has to offer.

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