A suburban sports club in Victoria has belatedly apologised for posting photos on social media of club supporters wearing blackface.
The Frankston Bombers Football and Netball Club said on Sunday it was “extremely regretful” for the incident, which triggered an AFL South East investigation and criticism from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
The Bombers held an ‘iPod shuffle’ event on Saturday evening that encouraged guests to dress up as their favourite musicians.
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Several patrons wore blackface to the event and the club then drew publicity to that fact by uploading images from the evening on Instagram.
The photos were spotted by Australian rapper Adam Briggs, who shared them on social media, sparking a flurry of criticism.
“Shout out to @FrankstonBomber for their ‘Racist Night’ and door prize for most #Blackface,” Briggs posted on Twitter.
— BRIGGS AKA BIG SIGH (@BriggsGE) May 14, 2016
The club initially tried to play down the incident.
Frankston Bombers president Chris Sharman was quoted as saying: “There was nothing racist about Saturday’s event.
“We ran an iPod Shuffle Night where everyone dressed up as their favourite musicians.”
Briggs then posted an angry voicemail message that allegedly came from the same phone number that was listed on the club’s Facebook page.
The expletive-laden rant was triggered after a friend of Briggs sent a text message to the number about the blackface photos.
“I’m short and I’m fat and people take the piss all the time,” the caller said.
“And we’re at a function where it’s called an iPod shuffle night and people come dressed as people and that’s what they f***ing do.”
The message then degenerated into foul content, which The New Daily chose not to publish.
The Frankston Bombers released a statement on Sunday afternoon (AEST) apologising for “any offence” it caused.
“We are extremely regretful of the situation that has transpired over the last 24 hours and want to assure our supporters, sponsors and the wider community that the club is in no way racist and unreservedly apologises for any offence that has been caused,” the club said.
“Our club is run by a group of local volunteers, who seek nothing more than to provide a supportive, well-intentioned and beneficial environment for local footballers and netballers and our aim as a club is to increase social cohesion amongst the community and not create division.
“We now understand that our actions at last night’s club event have caused offence and division and for this we apologise.
“The club is committing to put in place an educational program relating to vilification and discrimination to ensure we learn from this and come out of it a better and more educated club.”
Frankston Bombers also admitted it “may not have responded in an appropriate manner” to the “abuses and threats” its volunteers received.
The club said it would not be making further comment on the issue.
Premier Daniel Andrews told Fairfax that the club’s acts were “not in the spirit of football and not in the spirit of Victoria”.
The saga is not the first regarding blackface and sport in 2016, with Opals basketballers Liz Cambage and Alice Kunek involved in a spat over the issue in February.
Cambage posted a screenshot of the Frankston Bombers’ Instagram post on her Twitter feed, adding: “Here we go again.”