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Netball Australia loses $15m sponsor deal after player protest

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By Danielle Long | Acting APAC Editor

October 24, 2022 | 5 min read

Hancock Prospecting has withdrawn from its $15m sponsorship deal with Netball Australia following a protest by the players.

Diamonds

Netball Australia has lost its major sponsor following a player protest

The mining company pulled out of the four-year deal stating it would provide four months of support to the organisation “should [Netball Australia] and their players wish to accept it”.

“Hancock do not wish to add to Netball’s disunity problems, and accordingly, Hancock has advised Netball Australia that it is has withdrawn from its proposed partnership effective immediately.”

The mining company has offered to continue funding Netball Australia for four months to allow the organisation to arrange a new sponsorship deal.

The deal's collapse puts Netball Australia in uncertain waters as the organisation has lost more than $7m over two years due to Covid.

The deal came unstuck during the Constellation Cup in New Zealand when the national team, The Diamonds, reportedly refused to wear uniforms featuring the Hancock logo.

However, a statement from Hancock Prospecting refuted this claim. “Contrary to recent media, Hancock has not insisted that its name be worn by the Australian Diamonds in the current Constellation Cup series when overseas and was advised that the netballers had no concerns in wearing the name on the team dress for the series.”

The statement also highlighted the many athletes, teams and organisations the mining company sponsors, including the Australian Olympic Committee, Volleyball Australia, Artistic Swimming Australia and Rowing Australia. While also pointing to the “billions of dollars” mining and resources companies provide to the Australian economy.

“An often conveniently neglected truth when activists talk emotively about mining is that most, if not all, of the primary products required for the equipment, production, distribution and delivery of renewable energy depend on resources that need to be mined.”

Netball Australia boss Kelly Ryan told the media, “It’s very disappointing to lose this funding that was going to help accelerate us forward.”

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Ryan said while sports organisations play an important role in “social conversations”, “there needs to be a balance in terms of the commercial realities of that to make sure you continue to invest in the future of your sport.”

Australian sports organisations are facing increasing pressure from fans to end sponsorship deals with mining and energy companies over fossil fuel and environmental issues.

Last week, a Western Australian AFL team, the Freemantle Dockers, faced calls from high-profile fans to end the team's partnership with major sponsor Woodside Energy.

Earlier this year, Tennis Australia dropped oil and gas company Santos, as a major partner following a huge backlash. The contract was terminated one year into a multi-year sponsorship deal, which saw the energy company appointed as the Official Natural Gas Partner for the Australian Open and ATP Cup.

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