The AFL has issued a second public apology to Adam Goodes after the former Sydney champion rejected an offer to be inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame
Goodes, the AFL’s most decorated Indigenous player, cut ties with everything to do with football as soon as he retired in 2015, after prolonged booing during games.
The 41-year-old’s on-field feats made him a walk-up start to be inducted into the hall of fame this year, now he is eligible.
AFL commission chair Richard Goyder confirmed on Tuesday that the dual Brownlow medallist had knocked back the nomination and Goodes had asked for the reasons why not to be detailed.
“Adam was clear he did not want his decision to detract from the moment for the 2021 inductees,” Goyder said.
“Adam remains a great champion and leader of our game who has given more to our sport than he received in return.”
Goodes’ final three seasons, particularly his last, were marred by ugly booing from crowds, and he also became a target for controversial figures in the media.
The AFL eventually apologised for how the saga was handled by the league but Goyder has again conceded Goodes was let down by the game’s governing body.
“The treatment of Adam in his final years at AFL level drove him from football. The AFL and our game did not do enough to stand with him at the time, and call it out,” Goyder said.
“The unreserved apology that the game provided him in 2019 was too late, but, on behalf of our commission and the AFL, I apologise unreservedly again for our failures during this period.
“Failure to call out racism and not standing up for Adam let down all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, past and present.
“We hope that there will be a time in the future when Adam will want to be connected to the game again.
“This is a decision for Adam and Adam only and we understand and respect his choice.”
Goodes called out a teenage Collingwood supporter during a game at the MCG in 2013 after she called him an “ape”.
The 372-game champion was named Australian of the Year in 2014, with the awards committee commending him for being a “great role model and advocate for the fight against racism both on and off the field”.
The two-time Swans premiership player has rarely given media interviews since retiring but spoke with The Guardian in 2020 about his now non-existent relationship with football.
“I’ve tried to go to games and I haven’t enjoyed it. It’s really sad, because my godchildren love going to the football,” Goodes said.
“These are the kids of Michael O’Loughlin (another Sydney Swans icon and Goodes’ cousin).
“They always ask me to go and I feel really bad about not sharing that time because I adore them.
“I have other things to do.”
The tumultuous end to Goodes’ glittering career was the focus of two documentaries, The Australian Dream and The Final Quarter, in 2019.
The 2021 hall of fame event was to take place on June 22 but has been postponed due to Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown.