AFL Clarifies No Name Change After Boss Hints He Might Be Open To AFLM

Backlash strikes after suggestion that men’s footy should get an extra letter.

The AFL have clarified that they have no plans to change the name of their men’s competition, after their head of Football Operations suggested he would be open to considering adding an “M” to the end of the league’s acronym to reflect equality with the AFLW.

Appearing on the ABC’s The Outer Sanctum over the weekend, Steve Hocking had said that while he didn’t necessarily want to add an extra initial to the name of the men’s league, the AFL were “all ears” about the possibility of changing the competition’s name “in time”.

But as the quote about the mere possibility of considering maybe changing the acronym at some point in the future broke across more media today, the backlash was severe, with 93 percent of respondents to a Herald-Sun online poll saying that the name shouldn’t be changed.

AFL House went into damage control, tweeting out a statement this afternoon which shut the door on any change in the short term.

We had a great first round to season four of the AFL Women’s competition. AFLW has built its own powerful identity in the community & we will continue to promote its message & celebrate the league & women’s football. There are no plans to change the name of the AFL competition.

On Saturday’s episode of The Outer Sanctum, host Dr Kate Seear asked a very pointed question of Hocking and fellow guest, the AFL’s head of Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone, on Saturday’s episode.

“How long until AFL headquarters commits to formally renaming the men’s competition AFLM?”

After a pregnant pause, Livingstone suggested she’d take the question on notice to be taken back to AFL House.

But Hocking jumped in to provide a response, saying that the question was one of “tradition”.

“There’s a whole range of things that we’re unpacking, that have just been the way they have been because of 160 years of football, and I think that’s OK.”

It is worth noting that while Aussie rules football has been around for 160 years, the name “AFL” has only been used since 1990, when the Victorian Football League was renamed to reflect its inclusion of interstate teams.

“I don’t think we need to necessarily be looking over the fence at one another and saying whether we need to add another initial to something, but if in time it’s something that emerges, we’re all ears at AFL.”

Livingstone said she was careful to add the word “men’s competition” when she was referring to the competition internally, to distinguish from the AFL as a national sporting organisation.

Former Western Bulldogs Vice-President Susan Alberti said that the move was a “no-brainer”.

“It’s important to distinguish between the two competitions,” Alberti added.

But others on social media suggested that you could distinguish them without needing different acronyms.

Just call both AFL. Change me mind.

Star Carlton forward Darcy Vescio said language was important in reshaping thinking.

"I won't open up the AFLM debate, but I think just as long as the men's product isn't the default. The way we shape everyday conversations, the way it is reported in the media, is very important," Vescio said.

But it seems now that the AFLM debate has been opened up – and tradition has won out.