GREATER Western Sydney coach Alan McConnell insists the bond Haneen Zreika shares with her AFLW teammates remains intact despite her decision to not wear the club's Pride guernsey on religious grounds.
Zreika this week announced to her teammates that she would sit out Friday's home clash with the Bulldogs in order to avoid wearing the team's Pride guernsey.
The 22-year-old strives to be a leader in the Muslim community, and it's believed she feared wearing the jumper could compromise her standing.
McConnell addressed the issue after his team's 21-point win over the Bulldogs.
"As I said to Haneen, we can have similar opinions, different opinions, but they'll never break the bond that we have for one another and that she has with her teammates," McConnell said.
"I'm very comfortable and confident that's all intact.
"We empathise with the challenges she faces in these circumstances.
"But equally we're really proud of the connection and obligations we have to the LBGTQI community.
"The truth is, this has been a special round and a special couple of weeks for Pride Round.
"But I'm actually really proud of the fact that we live really strong values in terms of inclusion every day of the week, every week of the year at our footy club.
"And in particular in relation to this term. I'm very comfortable with where we sit."
Zreika attended Friday's match and joined in on the team song via FaceTime.
She also took to social media ahead of the game to say she respected people "regardless of their sexual orientation".
The AFL released a statement on Friday, stating it recognised there would be challenges between the League's stance and people's own beliefs.
"We believe in the power of our game to bring people together. It is a critical part of the fabric and values that make our game great and why we have introduced important initiatives such as AFLW Pride Round to celebrate inclusion," the statement read.
"We also recognise that sometimes there will be challenges between our stance as a code and people’s own beliefs and we respect the way the club and playing group have worked together to understand and support each other."
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