Veteran Adelaide forward Taylor Walker has accepted a six-game AFL ban for uttering a racist remark about a rival reserves player.
The former Crows captain will sit out the last three games of this season, including Saturday night’s Showdown against Port Adelaide, after a meeting with AFL and North Adelaide player Robbie Young on Thursday.
The 31-year-old will not be available for selection for the first three rounds of the 2022 season either.
Walker has apologised for using a racist slur about Young during a SANFL game on July 17, saying there was no excuse for his “unacceptable” words.
Walker was a spectator at the match between Adelaide and North Adelaide when a Crows official overheard a comment and reported the incident to the club, which referred it to the AFL.
Conciliation was held in Adelaide on Thursday involving Walker, Young, the club official and the AFL, leading to the suspension and the apology.
As well as the six-match ban, it was also decided Walker would make a $20,000 donation to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program in South Australia.
“There is no excuse or justification for the words I said,” Walker said.
“They are unacceptable and I take full accountability for that. I am deeply ashamed.
“I did not intend to cause harm, but I know and understand that I have caused deep hurt to the official who reported the matter and to Robbie Young, to both their families and to the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
“I apologise to all of them and to the Adelaide and North Adelaide Football Clubs.
“This process has led to a deeper understanding of the hurt that I have caused, and I am embarrassed, ashamed and remorseful.
“The official who reported this showed courage and leadership in calling out what I said, and I am determined to do what I can to emulate his actions.”
Walker will also need to privately address both the Adelaide and North Adelaide football clubs about his behaviour in the next three weeks and undertake an education program.
AFL inclusion and social policy executive Tanya Hosch, who was involved in the conciliation process, applauded the Adelaide official for calling out Walker’s behaviour.
“I have no doubt Walker is remorseful, understands that his comments can trigger trauma and seriously impact the mental health of the individuals, families and communities involved and he has accepted his sanctions,” Ms Hosch said.
Walker’s career was on the line at the end of a disappointing 2020 campaign before he was eventually given a one-year contract for 2021.
He has been in outstanding form this season, kicking 48 goals in 17 games to sit second on the Coleman Medal leaderboard and earn another extension.