Shaun Burgoyne, chair of the AFL Players Indigenous Advisory Board, has denounced alleged racial vilification of Eddie Betts and Paddy Ryder, sending the clear message to Australians: “We have had enough.”
Port Adelaide Power and South Australian police are investigating allegations that spectators used racist language against the Adelaide Crows forward and Power ruckman in last Saturday night’s Showdown.
Power has already suspended the membership of one fan who was evicted from Adelaide Oval for allegedly shouting abuse at Betts, and club CEO Keith Thomas has said he was “sickened” by the incidents.
“This has been happening for far too long and we, as indigenous footballers, have had enough,” Burgoyne said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We deserve more respect than we are being shown.
“While it’s heartening that these incidents are being called out, there’s a lot of work to do before we can claim to be a truly inclusive game.”
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan joined the condemnation, telling a press conference “we are resolute that we are going to call out racist behaviour because it wounds everyone”.
He said the “vast majority” of AFL fans were not racists and that his message to the “pockets” who exhibit this behaviour was: “Don’t come to our games.”
Betts was the target of racial abuse on social media over the weekend when a Power supporter, who is not a club member, likened him to an “ape” on Facebook and wrote he should “go back to the zoo where him and his family belong”.
A Power supporter was banned by the club and fined by police last year for throwing a banana at Betts during a Showdown fixture at Adelaide Oval in August.
Crows chief executive Andrew Fagan said his club “strongly” condemned racial vilification.
“In listening to our playing group and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players in particular, it is clear how damaging and impactful racism is to them and their families,” he said.
The Power said they would not make any further comment until they completed their investigations into the claims Betts and Ryder were abused.
– with ABC and AAP