AFL to imminently declare position on Indigenous Voice
The AFL could be on the verge of backing a 'yes' vote in the Indigenous Voice referendum on the eve of the league's annual Sir Doug Nicholls round.
The topic will be on the agenda at Wednesday's AFL Commission meeting, with the league expected to join the NRL and the Australian Olympic Committee in supporting the voice to parliament.
On Tuesday, Essendon joined Richmond, Collingwood and West Coast in publicly endorsing the 'yes' vote.
"At Essendon, we recognise that sport and football can connect people to have a positive effect in Australian society," a club statement read.
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have enriched the history of Essendon since Norm McDonald arrived at the club from Belmont in the 1940s.
"We believe that altering the constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice will enrich and benefit Australians."
Outgoing AFL boss Gillon McLachlan hinted an announcement could be made before the opening game of the league's Indigenous round.
"I don't like to talk to commission meetings, but there's a commission meeting (on Wednesday) and we've got Sir Doug Nicholls round coming up so you can probably join the dots about the timing on that," McLachlan said on Tuesday.
McLachlan hit back at critics, including former Australian prime minister John Howard, who believe sporting bodies should not have a say on social and political issues.
"Generally I think that we don't seek to on issues, more broadly on social issues, we don't seek to lecture," he said.
"We don't wade into every topic, but those that are relevant.
"There's a referendum coming up to our supporter base, to our people who work for the AFL, for people who are members of clubs, people who come to our games, for our playing group, I think it's important that leadership actually says this is what we stand for. This is what we think.
"I think that it'd be odd for a public organisation that is regarded as a community organisation, and that actually has millions of members ... to not understand what their leadership stands for."
Rugby Australia, Cricket Australia and Netball Australia are yet to formalise a public stance, but are continuing discussions within their respective organisations.