“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 republished 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 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 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.
Simone is a breaking news reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Australian in Melbourne.