Major sponsors remain with Netball Australia despite Hancock Prospecting withdrawing a $ 15 million contract

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Key sponsors of Netball Australia have denied reports they are considering ditching the code after Gina Reinhart Hancock Prospecting’s mining company withdrew a $ 15 million funding deal, due to player concerns about its record in the indigenous business.

The mining billionaire’s Netball Australia sponsorship saga came to a head on Saturday after his company announced it would withdraw from its $ 15 million loan deal.

He followed reports that Indigenous player Donnell Wallam and her Australian Diamonds teammates had expressed discomfort wearing the company logo on their uniforms, due to concerns about her record on indigenous issues.

The decision to withdraw funding, as well as sponsorship deals with Netball Western Australia and the West Coast Fever team, is a major blow to the code, which has suffered losses of over $ 7 million in two years affected by Covid.

Related: Diamonds “wanted to support” Hancock’s sponsorship, but did not regret taking a stand

Reports on Monday suggested other sponsors were considering withdrawing, citing unnamed sources suggesting the saga could cost the code another $ 10 million.

But major sponsors have confirmed that they intend to support the sport. Main sponsor Suncorp said he was “very proud” to be associated with the sport.

“Suncorp is very proud of our long-standing core partnership with Netball Australia as a leading women’s team sport in participation and our commitment to support the game from the grassroots community level through to Suncorp Super Netball and the Diamonds national team.” a company spokesperson said.

“As a sponsor, Suncorp is not responsible for the commercial and operational decisions of the sport that fall within the governance of Netball Australia.”

Other major sponsors echoed those comments. Insurance company HCF said it was “proud” of its partnership with the code, which saw it “empower those in the netball community to lead healthier, more active lives” over the past four years.

“We are proud of this partnership and are currently in business talks with Netball Australia regarding future sponsorship seasons,” said HCF.

Naming sponsor Origin Energy confirmed that he would remain an active supporter.

Related: Netball Australia chief says sport must balance “social conversations” with “commercial realities”

Main sponsor Nissan said it has recently extended its sponsorship for another five years.

“We are proud that this support extends from grassroots to international competition for Australia’s largest women’s sport,” said a spokesperson.

It comes when the head of the Netball Player’s Association, Kathryn Harby-Williams, said that a compromise had been reached between the governing body of the code and the Diamonds before Hancock’s decision.

Harby-Williams told the ABC stand that the players had been willing to wear the company logo on their kits during the Constellation Cup against New Zealand, which the Diamonds won on Sunday.

“We had reached an agreement with Netball Australia where everyone was comfortable that it was going to happen and that Donnell and the players would not be required to wear the logo against England in the three-game series that will start shortly,” said Harby. Williams.

“At no time did the players try to get the deal off the table, but we were certainly willing to reach a compromise and we agreed it shortly after the players had joined Donnell.”

Related: Hancock Prospecting withdraws from the $ 15 million funding agreement with Netball Australia after the players’ uprising

In two lengthy statements released over the weekend, Hancock and Reinhart defended their indigenous affairs record, pointing to separate funding initiatives, saying “sports organizations need not be used as a vehicle for social or political causes.”

He said there were “more targeted and genuine ways to advance social or political causes without signs of virtue or for self-publicity.”

In 1984 Reinhart’s father, Lang Hancock, the founder of Hancock Prospecting, suggested that Indigenous Australians be sterilized to “regenerate”.

In the interview, Hancock said, “Those that have been assimilated, you know, to earning [a] to live well or earn a salary among civilized areas, those that have been accepted into society and have accepted society and can manage society, I would leave them well alone ”.

“The ones who are no good in themselves and cannot accept things, the mestizos – and this is where most of the trouble comes – I would dose the water so that they were sterile and reproduced in the future and that would solve the problem. “.

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