Controversy has broken out regarding the Australian Football International (AFI)’s Harmony Cup, which took place in Melbourne on 28 February 2021.
According to organiser Brian Clarke, the Harmony Cup event aims to “celebrate Melbourne’s multicultural diversity and harmony, and use the power of sport to break down cultural and ethnic barriers. We may come from many different backgrounds but we are all Australians.”
The teams listed as participating this year are Italy, Druze Victoria, Greece and “Macedonia” and it is this last team that has caused discontent within the Greek community. This is especially so since each team uses its national flag in the promotional material and in the case of the team purporting to be “Macedonian,” (sic) the flag with the Star of Vergina, a symbol which by international law and treaty belongs to Greece, is being used.
Invited to comment as to whether he was aware that the proper name of the country the subject of the controversy is actually named “North Macedonia,” and that the flag used by the team is not actually the flag of that country, Brian Clarke told Neos Kosmos that he has been inundated with calls of protest by members of the Greek community, but was not aware of this prior to those calls.
Pan-Macedonian Federation of Melbourne President Paul Mavroudis informed Neos Kosmos that the organisation has formally lodged a letter of protest with the AFI but was been informed by organisers that it was too late to stop the team from participating under the contentious name and flag.
In response to Neos Kosmos’ question as to how permitting a team to misrepresent the name if its country and misuse symbols that belong to another facilitates multicultural harmony, organiser Brian Clarke responded that he apologised for any offence caused, stating: “It’s a bit too late to do anything about it know because the jumpers have already been produced. What I intend to do is sit down with the “Macedonian” (sic) team after the event and take the appropriate steps to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”’
It is not known at the time of writing, what the attitude of the Greek team participating in the event is, to the controversy.