Sport AFL AFL racism outcry after banana thrown at Betts

AFL racism outcry after banana thrown at Betts

The AFL has been hit by another racism scandal after a banana was thrown at Eddie Betts. Photo: AAP
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South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has branded the woman who threw a banana at Indigenous Adelaide Crows star Eddie Betts on Saturday night an “idiot”.

The unnamed Port Adelaide fan has been banned indefinitely by the club after video footage on social media showed her waving her middle finger at Betts before throwing the object in his direction.

Betts had just kicked his fifth goal of the game at Adelaide Oval in a dominant showing that coincided with his 250th AFL game, and did not notice the incident.

“After talking to witnesses it is clear that the offender’s behaviour was racially motivated and is therefore a significant breach of the club’s values and spectator code of conduct,” Port Adelaide general manager Daniel Norton said.

“As a result, the member has been banned indefinitely from attending any Port Adelaide games in the future,” Norton said.

He said the club will meet with the woman to offer her an opportunity to take part in the club’s Aboriginal cultural awareness programs.

Spectator Jamie Christodoulou said he saw the woman throw a banana after Betts had scored.

“A lot of supporters in the area were very disappointed and angered with what she had done,” he said. “We all outed her, I particularly did.”

Mr Christodoulou said he and his family, including children, had been forced to put up with the woman’s foul language at home games all year.

“This happened in the row in front of me. I am proud to say that I yelled at her and told her she took it too far. She responded by saying, ‘but he’s just a monkey’.”

He said the woman then got up and left.

The Adelaide Crows issued a statement saying the club was “disappointed and disgusted” by the behaviour of some fans at the game.

“The club has contacted the Port Adelaide Football Club, Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority and the AFL, and has expressed in the strongest possible terms that we expect significant action to be taken against any person found guilty of anti-social behaviour,” it said.

AFL general manager of inclusion and social policy Tanya Hosch released a statement the league is supportive of the actions taken by Port Adelaide.

“On behalf of the AFL, I want to say that we know racism exists in our game, as it does still in the broader Australian society,” Hosch said.

“Without commenting on this specific incident in detail, which is still being investigated, the throwing of a banana and its association with slurs on Indigenous Australians and other cultural groups, which has sadly occurred in sports around the world, is deeply racist and offensive, and should be rejected by every part of our game, including Clubs, players, fans and supporters.”

SA premier Mr Weatherill said he and most other football fans at the game were impressed with Betts’ performance, while condemning the actions of the unruly fan.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane also tweeted about the incident.

Port Adelaide was quick to issue a statement after the video of the incident surfaced.

“Port Adelaide is appalled by the vision and will not tolerate this type of anti-social behaviour at its games,” it read.

“Any object thrown onto the field in the direction of players, coaches or umpires is completely unacceptable.

“Port Adelaide implemented a spectator code of conduct in 2014 for all its members and supporters to ensure Adelaide Oval is a family friendly environment at its games.”

A banana thrown by Espanyol supporters during a match against FC Barcelona. Photo: Getty

The incident comes after Sydney Swans forward Adam Goodes was pushed into retirement by persistent abuse from hostile crowds in 2015, while a number of anti-Muslim banners have been unfurled at games in 2016. 

Black soccer players in various European leagues – particularly in Russia, Italy and Spain – have been subjected to banana-throwing across the years.

In 2014, Brazilian international Dani Alves put the act in the spotlight by defiantly picking up a banana and eating it on the field, winning acclaim and support.

Both Crows captain Taylor Walker and chief executive Andrew Fagan hinted at a racism element in separate posts that both labelled the act “disgusting” on Twitter.

Leading AFL journalist Caroline Wilson told ABC program Insiders “if it wasn’t so disgraceful it would be laughable … it’s absolutely reprehensible”.

“They need to find out who did it and ban them from attending the footy and Adelaide Oval.

“The connotations it invokes, it’s such a sad thing for the AFL.”

– with ABC, AAP

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