AFL Grand Final 2021: Perth mayor Basil Zempilas applause gesture slammed, Optus Stadium







Perth’s lord mayor, a Channel 7 star, is being torched by fans after a goodwill gesture that unwittingly rubs the rest of the country’s nose in it.

Perth’s lord mayor Basil Zempilas is being torched by some footy fans online after a gesture of goodwill that’s divided the country.

The high profile Channel 7 star said on Friday he wants to see the crowd of 60,000 at Saturday’s AFL Grand Final stand and applaud in a supposedly kind act towards the rest of the country doing it tough with Covid-19 restrictions.

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Zempilas posted on Twitter the crowd is being asked to applaud for one minute during the first quarter to show their fellow Australians the state is behind their compatriots in places like Victoria and NSW as they continue to deal with lockdowns caused by Covid-19.

His suggestion of support for the rest of the country comes after Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan declared this week he will not be pressured into opening the state’s border to NSW and Victoria in time for Christmas.

Under McGowan’s leadership, his state has been the strictest in the country for locking out people from other parts of the country. Zempilas believes the Grand Final day gesture will show a more empathetic side to Western Australia.

“(At) 20.21 in the first quarter (of the AFL Grand Final), we’re asking everyone in the stadium to stand for one minute and applaud — a nod to our friends around the country who are doing it tough & to let them know we’re with them in this difficult time,” Zempilas tweeted to his 20,000 followers.

“Let’s do it WA.”

The tweet caused an immediate backlash from fans, with many of the hundreds of comments labelling the tribute cringeworthy.

An overwhelming amount of replies to 7AFL’s Twitter post on the same subject were also completely against the idea.

Others, including sport reporter Catherine Murphy, posted it was simply awkward.

“Please. God. No,” she wrote in a response to Zempilas’ tweet. “Can we just stop the week.”

She finished her message with “#NoBasilNo”.

Radio announcer Dave Higgins was another who blasted the proposal.

“It truly is the most tone deaf idea I have heard of,” he tweeted. “I bet the people voting yes are from WA.

“Hearts in the right place, but please, don’t do this. It’s cringeworthy.”

There were some replies agreeing with Zempilas, but they were in the minority.

Western Australia is hosting the Grand Final for the first time as a result of the AFL being forced to move the game from its traditional MCG venue for the second consecutive year as a result of the pandemic.

Perth’s Optus Stadium will feature a festival-like atmosphere in the lead up to Saturday night’s decider between the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Demons.

The official pre-match festivities begin from 6.15pm, including the pre-match entertainment and the performance of the Welcome to Country and national anthem.

The AFL last week announced the line-up for the match day entertainment, including a half time performance from Perth-based alternative rock group Birds of Tokyo alongside the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

This year’s pre-match entertainment is loaded with West Australian talent, including John Butler, Eskimo Joe, Abbe May, indie phenom Stella Donnelly, Men at Work’s Colin Hay and Young Australian of the Year Baker Boy.

The Waifs’ Donna Simpson and Vikki Thorn and Indigenous duo Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse will also feature.

The Demons are hoping to snap a record 57-year premiership drought while the Bulldogs are hoping to replicate their fairytale 2016 run to the premiership from outside the top four.

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