In a season that’s already been marred by incredibly racist behaviour from fans both on and offline, the AFL‘s fraternity of Indigenous players have enacted a plan to publicly name and shame online trolls in a bid to end harassment of players and eradicate racism from the game.
Indigenous leader and footy legend Des Headland revealed that the league’s Indigenous players formed the plan at a summit prior to the season, before receiving the full backing from the AFL Players’ Association.
Since then, numerous players have taken to social media with screenshots of racist commenting from fans, with usernames and identities uncensored in a bid to name and shame those who, for lack of a better term, talk shit.
More disgraceful, cowardly, racist behaviour directed at one of our game’s finest people. There is simply no excuse for this garbage. Our indigenous players deserve so much better. pic.twitter.com/FnRa1A9iRQ
— Paul Marsh (@Marsh_Paul) February 23, 2019
Yesterday, the West Coast Eagles issued a public plea to fans to help stand against racist behaviour from fans, standing behind the club’s Indigenous leaders as well as club Indigenous liaison officer Brian Narkle and development coach Chance Bateman in a stirring video call-out that quickly captured the attention of the football world.
We’re taking a stand against racism.
We need your support.
Learn, share and start a conversation.
— West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) March 26, 2019
That sentiment was echoed by multiple AFL clubs who expressed their public support for the Eagles’ push on social media.
— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) March 26, 2019
Enough is enough.
— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) March 26, 2019
We stand with you! ???? #whenwillitend
— Western Bulldogs (@westernbulldogs) March 26, 2019
We stand united ???????? #weflyasone
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) March 26, 2019
— Geelong Cats (@GeelongCats) March 26, 2019
Great work, Eagles! We stand with you. #AllForOne
— Brisbane Lions (@brisbanelions) March 26, 2019
We’re with you, @WestCoastEagles. ????
— Melbourne FC (@melbournefc) March 26, 2019
We are with you! pic.twitter.com/SYlt9HMdlF
— Sydney Swans (@sydneyswans) March 26, 2019
Vilification of any kind is unacceptable.
— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) March 26, 2019
Headland spoke to the Herald Sun after the Name & Shame initiative was publicly revealed, asserting racist behaviour and commenting has absolutely no place in football, and that it was time people were made to face the consequences of their own words.
It’s about leadership, see something, say something. It’s time we stamp out this crap and what better way to name and shame and see who it is.
You want to make these comments behind the keyboard, let’s see how strong you are when you have to face the community.
The players’ announcement follows on from the latest bout of racist commenting, in which a Richmond fan by the name of Ash Jones racially vilified Eagles player Liam Ryan on social media.
While Jones has since issued a formal apology, Richmond officials saw fit to immediately suspend his membership for two years.
Richmond has been made aware that a Club member racially vilified West Coast’s Liam Ryan via social media over the weekend.
The Club has immediately suspended the person’s membership for two years, revoking all of their member rights.
— Richmond FC 🐯 (@Richmond_FC) March 26, 2019
Jones will have to undertake a cultural awareness and education program in order for the suspension to be lifted in 2021.