The following deals with allegations of sexual assault, which may be triggering for some readers.
The AFL has a famously loyal female fanbase.
Research out of Melbourne University found that its games attract the highest rate of female crowd attendance of any football code in the world. An average of 41 per cent over 20 years. That's more than the English Premier League, or the NFL, or NRL.
But lately, it seems, that loyalty is being tested over a critical issue.
That is the AFL's response to players facing allegations of violence against women. Or rather, it's lack of response.
The debate has been revived this month after Collingwood's Jordan De Goey continued to take the field despite being charged with indecent assault.
"These truly troubling issues are not going to go away": Caroline Wilson slams AFL's silence on Jordan De Goey's charges.
The 2015 incident was investigated by Victoria Police and the AFL Integrity unit in 2018, however, no charges were laid at the time. Yet when that changed on July 4, the AFL not only allowed De Goey to play on like nothing happened, it did so in silence.
And that's precisely where the growing discontent lies.
While other industries and sporting codes have finally begun to make meaningful, structural change to the way they handle allegations of physical and sexual violence against women, the AFL and several clubs seem to have sat on their hands.
Collingwood even tweeted "Welcome back Jordy" upon De Goey's return, and posted game footage in which commentator Bruce McAvaney described the charges against the star midfielder as "a hiccup".
After strong backlash from followers and viewers, the veteran broadcaster later apologised for minimising the situation.
Welcome back, Jordy. pic.twitter.com/Sc3R6qJG9t— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) July 16, 2020