A Disturbing Report Has Found Almost One Third Of AFL Players Of Colour Have Experienced Racism

Detail of the Sherrin match ball during the round 11 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Richmond Tigers at Sydney Cricket Ground on May 27, 2022 in Sydney, Australia

A report from the AFL Players’ Association has shown almost a third of 92 players who identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or a person of colour have experienced racism while listed as a player.

Of those 29 players, 15 said they’d experienced racism within the past year.

Released on Thursday, the AFLPA report identified the issues that affect players and mapped out how the association plans to address them. Given the abhorrent racism allegations against Hawthorn, it’s about time a report of this nature was commissioned.

Its findings were concerning, though. Of the 29 players who had experienced racism, only 17 per cent felt the incidents “were dealt entirely to their satisfaction”.

“This disappointing response highlights an area of future focus for the industry,” the report said.

62 per cent of players felt the incidents were not dealt with at all, while 21 per cent believed they were resolved somewhat or partially.

Big fkn yikes.

The most common instances of racism were experienced via social media (26), followed by spectators at games (13), when playing at a community level (10) and publicly (10).

There were also myriad instances of racism reported as being inflicted by people within the AFL industry — something the AFLPA said was “concerning”. Three instances were from players or staff from other clubs, two were from the AFL and teammates respectively, and one was from club staff.

Players were asked stand-alone questions “to explore the confidence of all AFL players to recognise and respond to racism at their club or while playing football”, which were developed as an outcome of Collingwood’s Do Better racism report.

The questions were optional and some players didn’t provide the source of the racism they experienced.

81 per cent of the broader group of players surveyed said they were “entirely confident” in knowing how to recognise and react to seeing or hearing racism at their club. 17 per cent were “somewhat confident”, and 57 per cent would welcome more support, tools, and education to allow them to respond to incidents of racism more assuredly.

As a result of the report, the AFLPA will refine the industry’s case management approach to “individual vilification issues” and continue educating players, coaches, administrators and fans about the impacts of racism and how they can help fight against it.

The association will also review support, tools and education for players, industry stakeholders and the public and launch its Human Rights Framework, as well as continue calling out racism.

“The AFLPA strongly condemns racial vilification across all levels of the game and is committed to working with all industry partners to eradicate it from football,” the report said.

“Racism continues to be an issue within the industry and the AFLPA will soon launch its Human Rights Framework that will help us respect, protect and promote human rights, firstly within the AFLPA itself, and then more broadly across the industry.

“We hope this will be a game changing piece of work.”

So do we.