'Not happy about it': AFL legend slams 'ludicrous' Tayla Harris statue

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Malcolm Blight has added his voice to the criticism of the decision to honour Tayla Harris’ iconic kick with a statue.

A photograph of the kick became a viral sensation earlier this year after sparking a spirited defence of women in sport when Harris was targeted by online trolls posting offensive comments.

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The 22-year-old AFLW player said she was humbled by the 3.3m tall statue, which was unveiled at Federation Square but does not yet have a permanent home.

"It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, young or old - everyone has a right to do what they love," Harris said.

"That's what I want people to see when they look at this."

Tayla Harris' kick has been immortalised in statue form.

However the statue has sparked some controversy, with debate raging about whether Harris actually deserves it.

On Thursday, AFL legend Blight described it as “ludicrous” and “mystifying”.

“She is getting a statue for being trolled online. Mystifying to me,” Blight said on Sportsday SA Radio.

“One of the most mystifying things I have ever heard of. I am not happy about it.

“We have Sam our producer, Ben another producer and Will our panel operator they have all been trolled online — I want a statue of one of these three to go alongside Tayla Harris because that’s how ludicrous and silly the whole thing is.

“What’s the difference between a male and a female in that environment?

Malcolm Blight looks on during a game in 2015. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“What about all the AFL players, all the SANFL players, all the WAFL players, all those players around Australia being trolled by d***heads, on a medium that I know very little about? Why aren’t they getting a statue? That’s how stupid the whole thing is.”

On Wednesday, many observers claimed there were other female sporting stars in Australia who deserved such an honour.

However there were also hoards of fans who celebrated the move.

Harris stance resonates worldwide

Harris's vocal stand against the abuse resonated around the world and drew messages of support from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and a slew of high profile athletes.

The AFL has been rocked by a number of social media controversies this season.

A number of Aboriginal players in the men's competition suffered racist taunts in the weeks after Harris's trolling, sparking campaigns against online bullying by clubs and the sport's governing body.

"Online trolling is an ongoing issue and something we're continuing to work on," Harris's teammate Darcy Vescio said at Federation Square.

"It's changed things for Tayla and for all of us, giving us the power to speak out.

"Online trolling occurs every day to a variety of people, but this was the moment people said 'no', and the power was given back to the person who was being abused."

with agencies