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Gina Rinehart pulls $15 million sponsorship for Australian netball team after player complaints

Gina Rinehart pulls $15 million sponsorship for Australian netball team after player complaints

Players have hit back after Rinehart's brutal statement.

Gina Rinehart has pulled her AUD$15 million sponsorship for the Aussie national netball team after players kicked off about the sport being associated with fossil fuels.

The Aussie billionaire launched a scathing attack against Netball Australia after the Diamonds raised concerns over the environmental impact of the mining company.

The team also took umbrage with offensive comments made by Rinehart's late father Lang Hancock about First Nations people back in 1984.

"Hancock and its executive chairman Mrs Rinehart consider that it is unnecessary for sports organisations to be used as the vehicle for social or political causes," Hancock Prospecting said in a statement.

"Firstly, because sport is at its best when it is focused on good and fair competition, with dedicated athletes striving for excellence to achieve their sporting dreams and to represent our country at their very best."

Constellation Cup Netball. Australia Diamonds.
Action Plus Sports Images / Alamy

The statement added: "Secondly, because there are more targeted and genuine ways to progress social or political causes without virtue signalling or for self-publicity."

They said they did not want 'to add to netball's disunity problems' as it pulled the multi-million dollar funding deal.

But the Diamonds have hit back at the mining magnate with a statement of their own, denying suggestions there was a 'split' between players.

"Reports of a protest on the part of the players, on environmental grounds and a split within the playing group are incorrect," the statement said, as per Yahoo News.

The Diamonds' statement went on to clarify that the the issue of concern was raised in 'support for our only Indigenous team member' Donnell Wallam.

The statement added that players are 'fully committed to the Diamonds' Sisters in Arms legacy... and values'.

"We are disappointed to learn that Hancock Prospecting has withdrawn their sponsorship offer," the Diamonds' statement said, as per the Daily Mail.

"As Netball Australia has emphasised, these funds go towards the Diamonds high performance and underpinning programs, so it is we, the players, who have the most to lose."

Indigenous player Donnell Wallam had reportedly wanted an exemption to wear the sponsor's logo on the team jersey with her teammates backing her decision, the Daily Mail reports.

Donnell Wallam of the Queensland Firebirds and Sarah Klau of the Swifts compete for the high pass.
Action Plus Sports Images / Alamy

Netball Australia Chief Executive Kelly Ryan admitted she was 'reasonably concerned' about the sport's financial stability in the wake of the funding loss.

"But at the same time, we have been incredibly transparent with the financial position of our sport throughout the course of the year and having suffered many losses across the last couple of years due to Covid-19," she told morning show Today on Sunday, according to Fox Sports.

"We are certainly aware of where our sport has been positioned. We have been doing a huge amount of work throughout the year to make sure we can right size this ship."

She added: "It is very disappointing to lose this funding which was really going to help accelerate us forward and put us in a much stronger position."

Featured Image Credit: Gina Rinehart/Facebook. Action Plus Sports Images / Alamy.

Topics: Sport, Australia, News