How an easy-to-miss detail in a photo of Australia’s netball World Cup uniforms hid another savage sponsorship blow for the sport.
Australian Diamonds forced to change uniforms ahead of World Cup Follows tournament sponsor Vitality withdraws name Netball Australia already reeling from Gina Reinhart’s departure
With just 15 days to go until the Netball World Cup in South Africa, title sponsor Vitality has pulled out of the tournament, leaving Netball Australia with another sponsorship disaster.
The failed talks saw the private health insurer go the other way, leaving many of the 16 competing nations – including Australia – scrambling to make late changes for a promotional shoot ahead of the first match in Cape Town on July 28.
Diamonds posed for a series of team photos earlier this week, using green or yellow tape to cover the Vitality company logo.
“It was our intention to be the title sponsor of the Netball World Cup 2023,” parent company Discovery said in a statement.
‘Unfortunately, after discussions we were unable to reach a mutually agreed partnership.’
Steph Wood (pictured left) and Australia’s Liz Watson model the World Cup uniforms – sponsored by Vitality Tape
Diamond stars Kate Moloney, Kiera Austin, Zoe Weston and Liz Watson model the modified uniforms.
Following the sponsorship push, the Diamonds lost a $15 million sponsorship deal from mining magnate Gina Rinehart last October.
At the time, several players had concerns about wearing a team uniform that included Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting Company sponsorship branding.
Aboriginal player Donnell Wallam was reportedly uncomfortable wearing uniforms with the company’s logo.
It follows Rinehart’s late father Lang Hancock’s comments about Aboriginal Australians nearly four decades ago.
He suggested in 1984 that Aboriginal Australians should be sterilized to ‘breed themselves’ in the coming years.
Netball Australia was rocked last year after Gina Rinehart (pictured) pulled out of a huge $15 million sponsorship deal.
Gina Rinehart (right) is pictured with her father, Lang Hancock, who started the Hancock Prospecting Company. His comments from a 1984 interview angered members of the Diamonds team
Donnell Wallam (pictured left) has criticized Gina Rinehart’s late father Lang Hancock for comments he made about Indigenous Australians, prompting Australia’s richest woman to withdraw her sponsorship.
And in March – despite a new contract worth $15 million from Visit Victoria – it emerged Netball Australia was struggling to repay a $4.2 million debt.
Netball Australia chief executive Kelly Ryan said at the time, ‘We have $4.2 million in debt and have to pay it back.’
‘We still have a substantial amount of debt that still needs to be repaid.
‘So we are still very fiscally responsible and ensuring that any opportunities for growth are realised.’
Australia are in a pool with Fiji, Tonga and Zimbabwe at the World Cup.