|This logo inexplicably exists.|
While John Ribot once dreamed of Super League planting a rugby league corner post in Chinese soil, unusually named AFL supreme leader Gillon McLachlan now proudly stands there holding aloft one of those ridiculous banners made of crepe paper that Aussie Rules footballers get stuck in as they run onto the field.
|Probably not this banner.|
Playing in China is a visionary plan come to reality for the AFL. And a stupid plan. But also don't forget visionary.
However, the most insane part of this event isn't trying to play a serious game of Aussie Rules outside Australia. It was Turnbull professing at the media conference that "AFL is the most exciting football code".
This is insane not because it's subjectively wrong (although it is). It's insane because he wasn't genuine about one of the most important things in Australian culture: your preferred footy code and club.
The obvious truth is that Turnbull is a rugby union man. He attended Sydney Grammar, an elite private school steeped in rugby tradition - admittedly an elite school that concerns itself too much with academics to be particularly good at that tradition these days. He then played 4th grade club rugby at Sydney University, before working in the legal and financial sectors which are laden with the rich wankers that give rugby a bad name.
Turnbull will also jump aboard the Sydney Roosters bandwagon when the opportunity arises - the NRL team based in his Wentworth electorate. I even found a photo of him holding a Roosters jersey when they won the 2013 premiership!
|He totally knew what he was holding up there|
I found that awkward Roosters photo when searching for images labelled Malcolm Turnbull Sydney Swans on Google, which I searched after discovering he's made a few tweets about the Swans. It was the first image. The others were photos of the Swans playing.
There are no photos on Google of Malcolm Turnbull linked in any way to the Swans or AFL. This confirms he's not much of an Aussie Rules supporter. Of course, he also confirmed it himself when he spectacularly failed to answer a simple question about his favourite AFL team just last August.
I have to confess I vote for, I support, in Australian rules, the Roosters, who of course aren’t in the grand final — sorry the Swans.
Well, that was unconvincing.
Australia loves sport but we hate frauds. Other politicians have pretended to have an interest in sport, some have done so almost as badly as Turnbull, but previously none have gone so far as to switch footy codes when it is politically convenient.
Turnbull could've sold the AFL in China deal without selling his footy soul. He could've trumpeted the news of the AFL playing an exciting game in front of some ex-pats and conscripted locals, without calling it the most exciting game. He could've steered clear of discussing the merit of rival sports altogether while making tenuous links between this fixture and benefits in foreign affairs, trade relations and general strengthening relationships with our Northern neighbours.
But he chose the dark path and I predict this will play badly for Turnbull, in a way that will simultaneously demonstrate that Australia takes sport too seriously and politics not seriously enough.
Turnbull will soon discover that you can lock up refugees and trample on their human rights, you can take our metadata, you can smash poor people with education, health and welfare cuts, you can cosy up to corporations and banks, you can making housing unaffordable for future generations, and you can sellout your principles on issues from the republic to carbon emissions to gay marriage, but you can never mess with the footy.