How an easily overlooked detail in photos of Australia’s Netball World Cup kits hid another sponsorship blow for the sport
- Australian diamonds forced to alter kits ahead of World Cup
- Follow Vitality Tournament Sponsor By Retiring Its Name
- Netball Australia already reeling after Gina Reinhart left
With just 15 days to go before the Netball World Cup in South Africa, title sponsor Vitality withdrew from the tournament, leaving Netball Australia with another sponsorship disaster.
The failed negotiations sent the private health insurer heading in another direction, leaving many of the 16 competing nations, including Australia, scrambling to make late changes for promotion shoots ahead of the opener in Cape Town on July 28.
The Diamonds posed for a series of team photos earlier this week, wearing either green or yellow tape to cover the Vitality company logo.
“Our intention was to be the title sponsor of the Netball World Cup 2023,” parent company Discovery said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, after negotiation, we were unable to reach a mutually agreeable partnership.”
Steph Wood (pictured left) and Australia’s Liz Watson model World Cup kits, with the Vitality sponsor taped on.
Diamonds stars Kate Moloney, Kiera Austin, Jo Weston and Liz Watson model the altered uniforms
The endorsement coup follows the Diamonds losing a $15 million endorsement deal to mining magnate Gina Rinehart last October.
At the time, several players were concerned about wearing a team uniform that included the endorsement branding of Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting company.
Indigenous player Donnell Wallam was said to be uncomfortable wearing a uniform with the company’s logo on it.
It followed comments that Rinehart’s late father, Lang Hancock, had made about Aboriginal Australians nearly four decades ago.
He suggested in 1984 that indigenous Australians should be sterilized in order to ‘disappear’ in the next few years.
Netball Australia was left reeling after Gina Rinehart (pictured) pulled a massive $15m endorsement deal last year
Gina Rinehart (right) is pictured with her father Lang Hancock, who founded Hancock Prospecting. Her comments from a 1984 interview angered members of the Diamonds team.
Donnell Wallam (pictured left) criticized comments Gina Rinehart’s late father Lang Hancock had made about Aboriginal Australians, prompting Australia’s richest woman to withdraw her endorsement.
And in March, despite a new $15m deal from Visit Victoria, news broke that Netball Australia was struggling to pay off a $4.2m debt.
“$4.2 million is the debt we have and we have to pay,” Netball Australia chief executive Kelly Ryan said at the time.
‘We still have considerable and sizeable debt that still needs to be paid.
“So we continue to be very fiscally responsible and make sure all growth opportunities materialize.”
At the World Cup, Australia is in a group with Fiji, Tonga and Zimbabwe.