Indigenous AFL Players Band Together & Urge Fans To End Racism In Footy

After a weekend where another act of cowardly racism has reared its ugly head, the Indigenous stars of our the AFL have banded together to declare that enough is enough.
A group of indigenous stars representing the AFL Players Association‘s key Indigenous Advisory Board have penned an open letter to footy fans, urging them to help stamp out abhorrent behaviour, like that directed towards Eddie Betts and Paddy Ryder during this past Saturday’s key clash between Adelaide and Port Adelaide.
The group, headed up by chair Shaun Burgoyne, implores fan to think twice about the way they behave at games and online, asserting that if things don’t change the game is in danger of losing its next champion a la Adam Goodes.
It also extends beyond race, condemning vilification based on sexuality, religion, or gender.
It’s an exasperated, almost exhausted plea, clearly indicative of a playing body that has had more than enough.
The letter, in full, reads as follows:

“To the football community,

How long must we put up with this?

Racial vilification has been a part of our game for too long.

That both Eddie and Patrick were abused because of the colour of their skin is absolutely unacceptable and we, as the AFL Players’ Indigenous Advisory Board, have had enough.

These are more than just words and the impact these slurs have on the player, their family, their children and their community is profound.

Despite the amazing work done in the community by our brothers and sisters, they continue to experience this disgraceful treatment.

There’s no room in our game for any form of vilification, whether it’s based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Anyone who thinks that this is an acceptable way to act is no football fan.

Unless the industry, and society for that matter, can show greater respect for diversity then we risk losing the next Adam Goodes, Andrew McLeod, Buddy Franklin or Cyril Rioli.

We want football fans to barrack for their club with passion, but shouting abuse at an opposition player and targeting their race needs to stop.

Keep this in mind when you watch the football this weekend and help us stop racism.

Thanks in advance,
Shaun Burgoyne (Chair), Neville Jetta (Deputy Chair), Chad Wingard, Danyle Pearce, Allen Christensen, Jarrod Pickett, Michael Johnson, Shane Edwards.”

Meanwhile the AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has made the league’s stance on the issue extremely clear: If you’re not on board with this message, do not come to AFL games.

Fronting media after tackling what feels like the thousandth public racism row to befall football in recent times, McLachlan asserted that the league is doing as much as it possibly can to tackle instances like this head-on.

“My message is to all football supporters to continue calling out bad behaviour, and for the pockets that are not onboard, don’t come to our games because we are welcoming of everyone.”

“Racism wounds people, it hurts communities, and racism has no place in our game.”

“We’ve come a long way on-field and we’ve come a long way off-field. But there are still isolated instances and we are going to keep tackling them, we’re going to keep calling them out.”

Round 4 of the 2017 AFL season kicks off Thursday night when the winless (!!!) Sydney Swans take on the West Coast Eagles in Perth.

Source: AFLPA.
Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty.