Channel Seven AFL under fire for removing photo of footy star Tayla Harris

Tayla Harris kicks the ball during the match between the Western Bulldogs and Carlton, in the picture posted by Seven, removed and later reposted. Photo: Michael C Wilson
Tayla Harris kicks the ball during the match between the Western Bulldogs and Carlton, in the picture posted by Seven, removed and later reposted. Photo: Michael C Wilson

Footy star Tayla Harris says she feels "empowered" after the sports community rallied around her following the removal of a photo which had attracted offensive and derogatory comments on social media.

Channel Seven is under fire for removing the photo of the AFLW player, which was taken of Harris kicking a goal from 45 metres during the weekend's clash between Carlton and the Western Bulldogs.

The photo of the 21-year-old Carlton star was posted on Tuesday afternoon by the broadcaster's 7AFL social media channels before it was removed about 6.30pm.

"The original purpose in publishing the image was to celebrate the power, athleticism and skills on show in Carlton's thrilling win over the Western Bulldogs," the original statement read.

"The image attracted a number of comments, some of which were inappropriate and offensive. As a consequence we have removed the image and the comments."

However, the response drew heavy criticism online, with many slamming the broadcaster for removing the photo rather than removing the comments.

Within five hours, 7AFL had reposted the photo with an apology.

"We're sorry. Removing the photo sent the wrong message," it read.

"Many of the comments made on the post were reprehensible and we'll work harder to ban trolls from our pages. Our intention was to highlight Tayla Harris's incredible athleticism and we'll continue to celebrate women's footy."

Harris said on Wednesday morning she was feeling empowered after the swift and strong reaction from the sports community.

"It's been a bit of whirlwind," she told RSN Racing & Sport radio.

Harris responded to the furore just after 8pm on Tuesday night, re-posting the photo with the caption: "Here's a pic of me at work... think about this before your derogatory comments, animals."

She also posted the picture on Instagram.

"My hamstring is ok but derogatory and sexist comments aren't," she wrote.

Sports stars rallied behind Harris, re-posting the photo with words of support.

"Deleting the post is giving in to trolls," wrote fellow Carlton player Darcy Vescio. "Also, you're eliminating all the positive conversation. Also, you're removing more content around women in sport - which there's already so little of. It's up to everyone to moderate hate."

Australian track cyclist and Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares said the choice to remove the "incredible image" of Harris astounded her, while Matildas soccer player Sam Kerr wrote: "THE PROBLEM WAS NOT THE PHOTO".

The AFLW posted the same picture on Twitter, saying "This is Tayla Harris - epic athlete & footballer. This is AFLW".

Harris has played in the AFLW since 2016. Last year she won the AFLW Mark of the Year.