The Australian Football League (AFL) has said it is ‘reassessing’ its sponsorship deal with Royal Brunei Airlines amid a global boycott of the anti-gay country.
The league said it was unaware of the law Brunei enacted law in April that punishes gay sex with death by stoning and will come into effect next year.
The AFL touted the 12-month deal with the state-owned airline as its ‘biggest ever sponsorship’ when it was announced in July.
It is embarrassing for Australian football’s governing body as it pledged to ‘eliminate’ homophobia in the sport in April.
The AFL said yesterday in a statement, ‘AFL Europe entered into the sponsorship agreement with Royal Brunei Airlines in good faith, unaware of concerns outside the sporting arena about the Brunei government’s adoption in April this year of harsh and discriminatory cultural laws. These laws are counter to everything the AFL stands for in regards to inclusion and diversity.
‘In conjunction with AFL Europe, we are currently reassessing the appropriateness of the sponsorship arrangement and also the broader issue of the AFL’s oversight of potential sponsorship deals that are put to affiliate organizations overseas.
‘Given the AFL has only recently been made aware of the situation, the sponsorship deal will be reconsidered in consultation with various key stakeholders.’
Human rights groups have called for a boycott of companies owned by the state and the Sultan, who owns luxury hotels in the US and UK.