A group closely affiliated with Melbourne Football Club is planning its season launch event at one of the country’s oldest male-only members clubs, the Australian Club in Melbourne.
The event, promoted on the group’s social media page, is being held on March 9, the day after International Women’s Day.
Featured guests on the night will include Melbourne Football Club president Glen Bartlett and former AFL players Gary Pert, Mark Williams, Adem Yze, Alan Richardson and Garry Lyon.
According to Melbourne Football Club’s website, the Coterie is the club’s “pre-eminent supporter group”, affiliated with the club for over 80 years.
“Before players were professional athletes, Coterie provided players with assistance and employment,” the website reads.
“In more recent times, Coterie provided a business, financial, mentor and support network.”
The Australian Club, established in 1878, excludes women from membership, but has in recent years allowed female guests to visit.
Last month, Fox Sports reported Glen Bartlett’s title at Melbourne Football Club had been changed from chairman to president following feedback from female members.
The Melbourne Football Club has been contacted for comment.
Respect Victoria, which aims to prevent all forms of family violence and violence against women, said holding such a function at a men’s club was not good enough.
“This is not reflective of an equal playing field, and sends a message to women and gender diverse players and fans that they are not unconditionally welcome,” the group’s chief executive Tracey Gaudry said.
She said men in all roles in the sporting world, regardless of their status, “should be tackling outdated ideas about masculinity in sport and setting a positive example”.
“We cannot keep using ‘it’s tradition’ or ‘things have always worked this way’ as reasons to be discriminatory,” she said.
“Over the past few weeks, Australians have seen firsthand the disrespect that women can face from men in powerful positions and structures across a range of institutions. It is no longer good enough to let this slide.
“The actions of sports clubs and the groups affiliated with them have a significant influence on broader community attitudes and behaviours, and this is not good enough – particularly the day after International Women’s Day.
“Clubs should be promoting gender equality, respect and inclusivity at every opportunity.
“We’ve seen male-dominated sporting codes take significant steps to improve equality over recent years, including this particular club – this is disappointing to see and it’s important that we call it out.”
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