Collingwood’s last-gasp win over Richmond on Friday night was overshadowed by an offensive anti-Muslim banner unfurled at the MCG.
A photo of the banner – which bore the acronym UPF, for United Patriots Front – read “Go Pies, Stop the Mosques” and was displayed under the scoreboard during the match’s second quarter.
The picture (as seen above) was widely circulated on social media on Friday evening.
MCG officials said the banner was removed and that those holding it were ejected from the venue.
The patrons were removed “for displaying material that was deemed to be racist and offensive to others,” the ground said.
It is unclear how many people were thrown out in connection with the banner, or how long it was on display for.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire told The Age that those who unfurled the banner should be banned from football for life.
He added that the message sent was “disgraceful”, but they were not necessarily Collingwood fans.
The AFL reaction
The AFL condemned the incident in a short statement, released on Friday evening.
“The AFL is aware that an offensive banner was displayed at the MCG during tonight’s rd2 game between Richmond and Collingwood,” it read.
“Match day security removed the banner when they became aware of it and evicted the patrons responsible.
“The AFL condemns the behaviour in the strongest terms and such actions have no place in society, and not in our game.”
Magpies come from the clouds
The controversy overshadowed what was a brilliant come-from-behind win from Collingwood, who had a Brodie Grundy goal with four seconds left to thank for a one-point victory over the Tigers.
Collingwood won 13.9 (87) to Richmond’s 12.14 (86).
The Tigers led by 17 points with eight minutes left, but Alex Fasolo, who finished with six goals, kept the Pies in with a chance before Grundy hacked a loose ball out of the goal square to break Richmond hearts.
Jack Riewoldt inspired Richmond with three last-quarter goals, but Damien Hardwick’s men were left to rue costly turnovers that left the door open for the Magpies.
Collingwood suffered a horrendous start to the AFL season, thrashed by 80 points in Sydney and embroiled in an illicit drugs controversy.
They also lost star midfielder Dane Swan, likely for the season, due to injury, and Steele Sidebottom due to suspension.
But they fought well at the MCG on Friday night on an evening where both sides kicked just three goals in the first half.
Adam Treloar starred for Collingwood with 32 possessions, while team-mate Scott Pendlebury was influential across the half-back line.
Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin and Bachar Houli did the heavy lifting for the Tigers, but they faded late on a night that will ultimately be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
– with AAP