Buddy ‘deeply disturbed’ by flag furore
Sydney superstar Lance Franklin says he's been left "deeply disturbed" by criticism of his clothing company's T-shirts featuring the Aboriginal flag, revealing WAM Clothing has temporarily stopped ordering or selling any further merchandise.
Franklin began selling clothing with the Aboriginal flag, manufactured by WAM Clothing, via his Buddy Franklin Authentic website.
Australia's first Aboriginal Olympic gold medallist Nova Peris on Monday hit out Franklin, saying his promotion of a clothing company that profits from use of the Aboriginal flag was a "kick in the guts for all of us".
Peris is part of the "free the flag" campaign, which seeks to stop WAM profiting from use of the Aboriginal flag, which the company says it holds the exclusive worldwide licence to for its use on clothing.
In an Instagram post on the Buddy Franklin Authentic account, Franklin said it was never the company's intention to cause disrespect.
"I have been deeply disturbed by comments targeting me about the use of the Aboriginal flag on T-shirts we produced through the only licensed and legal avenue, being through WAM clothing, and in doing so, with full and due respect to the artist, Harold Thomas," Franklin's statement read.
"Our intention was to produce the T-shirt, as an expression of my cultural pride and to encourage Australians of all backgrounds to wear our flag, that is an official flag of our country, with pride.
"It was never, our intention to disrespect others in Aboriginal communities, and as a result of this issue, we will not be seeking to order or sell any further T-shirts or merchandise until the matter of our flag being made freely available is resolved for the good of our people, and our country."
While a spokesperson for Franklin told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald "we did what was legally right", Peris told both outlets she was disappointed with the 300-game AFL icon.
"I've never met (Franklin), but this is why we're upset," she said.
"Everything we've been fighting for, for the past 18 months, for him to go and do what he's doing is a kick in the guts for all of us.
"That's what we're angry about. If you want to be a leader for our mob, then do right by our mob.
"It was Aboriginal people that gave rise to the flag. We gave it the value. That's why we're angry at WAM, who's profiting off the value of that flag."
WAM said it attained the worldwide licence via a deal with Aboriginal man Harold Thomas, who designed the flag in 1971.
Peris, the first indigenous Australian and first Territorian to win an Olympic gold medal, said WAM's association with Franklin is just another example of it profiting off the achievements of indigenous Australians.
"There's nothing greater for me as a sportsperson than seeing a non-Indigenous person on TV in front of millions of viewers, wearing a beautifully designed jumper by an Aboriginal person and you're wearing our flag," she said.
"And to me, when a non-Indigenous person is wearing our flag that says to me that, that person values, that person acknowledges our history. That's a very powerful statement.
"And what WAM is doing is telling people they have to pay for that. Why should they have to pay for that? You don't have to pay for the use of the Australian flag.
"WAM are profiting from that. You're profiting from my achievements, (Cathy) Freeman's achievements, Eddie Betts' achievements. All of us mob."
Last week, Franklin joined a chorus of players and coaches in protesting against racism across the world after the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man who died when a white police officer knelt down on his neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd pleaded "I can't breathe".
Originally published as Buddy 'deeply disturbed' by flag furore