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3 Nov, 2021 13:58

Aussie women’s sports star who protested ‘experimental’ Covid vaccine warned she will be ‘replaced’ unless she reverses stance

Aussie women’s sports star who protested ‘experimental’ Covid vaccine warned she will be ‘replaced’ unless she reverses stance

Australian rules football star Deni Varnhagen, who is also an ICU nurse, has been warned by her club that they will have no option but to replace her on the team unless she drops her opposition to the Covid-19 vaccine.

Adelaide Crows player Varnhagen was the source of countless headlines this week after taking part in a large demonstration in opposition to vaccine mandates in her native Australia - a position which has come under further scrutiny due to her day job as an ICU and anesthetics nurse. 

The 29-year-old, who has played for the Adelaide-based AFL women's team since 2017, was filmed at a Tuesday protest in South Australia in which she railed against mandatory vaccinations, saying: "No one should be at threat of losing their jobs if they don’t enter a medical experiment."

The situation is doubly concerning for Varnhagen as mandates are in place in both her medical and sporting careers - with AFL chiefs announcing that all players, including Varnhagen must be at least partially vaccinated by November 19 in order to continue their playing careers.

And if she was looking for some sort of exemption from her club, that certainly hasn't been forthcoming.

"The club’s pretty clear," Crows coach Matthew Clarke said of Varnhagen, the only player on the team roster to not yet have been vaccinated. "We’re really promoting vaccination.

"We think it’s really important for our community and our industry. Everyone’s obviously gone through a challenging period, but the club’s position is really clear."

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The situation appears to be an all-or-nothing one for both Clarke and Varnhagen, after the club indicated that they would in effect sever ties with the 2019 defensive player of the year unless she reverses her stance.

Furthermore, they also suggested that the clock is very much ticking on Varnhagen.

"It falls into line with the AFL, and on November 19 if anyone playing or in the footy department aren’t vaccinated, they won’t be able to be a part of the program anymore," Clarke added.

"As of November 19, if that plays out, then we’ll be in a position to replace anyone who’s at that stage, and that’s what we’ll do."

Clarke also added that the door remains open for one of their star players to remain with the club and hopes that she will be present to help the Crows towards what would be their third AFLW Premiership title.

"I hold out hope that something will change before November 19," Clarke said.

"She’s continued to engage in the education from medical teams and the AFL’s medical teams. We see that as an opportunity but predominantly as an individual choice. We’ll wait and see how that plays out."

Varnhagen, who has missed a November 1 deadline to receive a vaccination in order to continue her medical career, has also been 'stood down' from her professional medical role and now faces the very real threat of walking away from her nursing and athletic careers amid Australia's hardline stance on vaccinations.

Recent data shows that Australia, which had previously been pursuing a 'zero Covid' strategy against the virus, has now recorded upwards of 130,000 infections and around 1,500 deaths.

Also on rt.com ‘Coercion is not consent’: Aussie sports star & registered nurse defends stance against ‘experimental’ Covid vaccine (VIDEO)