The Australian Football League is sponsoring a sports academy in Melbourne open only to young Muslim males.
The Bachar Houli Junior Academy bills itself as a “high-performance football talent program for emerging junior players aged 15-18” who “must be… from an Islamic background.”
The program, hosted by professional footballer Bachar R. Hashim El-Houli, “focuses on strengthening players leadership abilities, building their brotherhood and providing a unique football development opportunity for young Muslim men as well as giving the participants the opportunity to learn about their identity and religion.”
The AFL Multicultural department, Australian government, and Puma are listed as sponsors for the academy which provides subsidization for “flights and accommodation” for participants.
According to advertisements, additional sponsors for the program include Living Safe Together, a government-linked organization aimed at “building resilience to violent extremism,” and also MCCA, a Sharia-compliant Islamic finance and investments firm.
Houli is touted as one of the first devout Muslims to play in the top league, and also hosts additional youth camps that welcome only Muslims – at least one of which is “fully funded by the AFL.”
Australian anti-Islamization activist Kirralie Smith drew attention to a Facebook post on Houli’s account promoting the academy, which sparked a backlash from outraged users in the comments section. Those comments appear to have since been hidden.
“I don’t know if this one is government funded or not, but I do know the government was sponsoring Muslim only football games and activities under the ‘de-radicalization’ program funding,” Smith wrote. “Surely there is something very wrong with segregation? Why is the AFL promoting segregation? Isn’t sport meant to be all inclusive? Muslim only sounds very exclusive to me!”
The AFL is subsidized heavily by the Australian government, while contributing zero in tax dollars, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The NRL and AFL generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and do not pay a cent in tax, Fairfax Media can reveal, while calling on the public to pay billions of dollars to build new stadiums as the NSW government faces an internal revolt over its $2 billion plan,” reported the Herald.
Dan Lyman: Follow @CitizenAnalyst