The AFL has today released its COVID-19 vaccination policy for all VFL, VFLW and Talent Pathway players and football staff.
In general terms, the Policy will require all VFL, VFLW and Talent Pathway players and Football Program Staff to be vaccinated in advance of the start of the 2022 VFL, VFLW and Talent Pathway seasons.
- the Victorian Football League (VFL);
- the Victorian Football League Women's (VFLW);
- the NAB League Boys, the AFL Academy, and all levels of national Championships matches (Male Pathway Programs and Competitions);
- the NAB League Girls, the AFLW Academy, and all levels of national Championships matches (Female Pathway Programs and Competitions).
The AFL will work with all clubs, players and staff subject to these policies to provide support and guidance as needed.
The Policy strongly encourages all persons competing at state-league level or through the Talent Pathway Program that are not already vaccinated to be vaccinated as soon as they are practicably able.
In order to best protect the health and safety of all participants, to support the purpose of the AFL / AFLW Elite Policy (noting again that a significant number of AFL and AFLW players and AFL and AFLW football staff also participate or are involved in the VFL and VFLW), and to facilitate interstate travel as is required for many of the competitions, the AFL requires all Players and Football Staff in the VFL, VFLW, NAB League and other Talent Pathway programs to be vaccinated as follows:
- Players and Football Staff are required to receive a first vaccination dose by 24 November 2021; and
- Players and Football Staff are required to be fully vaccinated by 22 December 2021
Collectively, these are the VFL and VFLW Vaccination Requirements and Pathway Programs and Competitions Vaccination Requirements.
The AFL has written to the SANFL and WAFL to recommend a similar policy is adopted in those state-league competitions.
The AFL will continue to work with teams from States that participate in the National Championships on confirming their specific dates of vaccination.
The Policy establishes a process for the AFL's consideration and (where appropriate) approval of medical exemptions using criteria similar to the Victorian Authorised Worker Vaccination Mandate and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis by the AFL to assess the changing environment in relation to COVID-19 and vaccination in Australia.
The Policy will apply to new Players coming into the VFL, VFLW and Talent Pathway Competitions.
Player's playing contracts
Players and Football Program Staff that do not comply with the vaccination requirement that apply to them will not be able to attend Club premises including to train or play, absent a medical exemption approved by the AFL. In short, they will not be able to perform their contracted services for their Clubs.
Clubs will determine the action to be taken with respect to remuneration and contractual/playing list status of Players and Football Program Staff that do not comply with the Policy.
AFL Executive General Manager Football and General Counsel Andrew Dillon reiterated the need to protect the health and safety of all players, staff and the wider community.
"Our policy delivers on our commitment to be protect our players, staff and the wider community across many levels of football, so we can once again unite as families, as friends, as work colleagues, as teammates, as supporters, as communities, as one," Dillon said.
"State-league football and the talent pathway programs play an integral part in the football ecosystem that supports the elite AFL and AFLW competitions and the AFL shares responsibility to minimize the risk of exposure of COVID-19 across these levels of football."
"We will continue to work with all clubs, players and staff to provide the support and guidance through this evolving situation."
The AFL will adopt the same vaccination requirements for participants in community football as those put in place by the relevant State or Territory Government for community sport.
Australian Football State and Territory governing bodies will provide any further details regarding vaccination requirements relevant to those participating in community football competitions and programs in those markets, based on requirements put in place by the relevant State or Territory Government.