Aussie rules football player Tayla Harris is getting the last laugh — or kick — against online trolls.
Once the victim of relentless online bullying after a photo of her went viral, the 22-year-old is now being honoured with a statue in Melbourne, Australia’s Federation Square.
The bronze likeness was commissioned by a sponsor of the Australian Football League Women to represent the athleticism and power of a rugby player in full flight.
WATCH | Aussie rules footballer gets statue in Australia after relentless online trolling:
Last March, the forward for the Carlton Football Club was captured mid-kick in a now-iconic photo by Michael Willson. The photo was posted to Australian broadcaster Channel Seven’s AFL Facebook page and the comments that followed sparked outrage.
Harris herself described the sexually charged comments as “repulsive” and said they left her feeling “sexually abused” on social media. So when Channel Seven’s AFL Facebook page decided to remove the photo, rather than moderate the comments, the outrage grew greater.
What the hell is wrong with this… its an awesome photo …great technique of kicking an <a href=”https://twitter.com/AFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@AFL</a> ball… we have truly lost our minds if this is what we have to take this down!!! <a href=”https://t.co/NnIwNyJ0jk”>https://t.co/NnIwNyJ0jk</a>
After an outpouring of support from players and fans alike, Channel Seven’s social media team decided to re-post the photo and admitted their mistake.
We’re sorry. Removing the photo sent the wrong message.<br><br>Many of the comments made on the post were reprehensible & we’ll work harder to ban trolls from our pages. <br><br>Our intention was to highlight <a href=”https://twitter.com/taylaharriss?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@taylaharriss</a> incredible athleticism & we’ll continue to celebrate women’s footy. <a href=”https://t.co/p24Ll08LRC”>pic.twitter.com/p24Ll08LRC</a>
At the statue unveiling ceremony Wednesday, Harris said the statement is “a big step” in helping eradicate online bullying.
“Through the whole situation, it gave people a voice and a bit of power to actually rebut against someone who’s said something in a trolling manner. And I think that is a step forward.”