Culture

Some Absolute Dickhead Threw A Banana At Indigenous Footballer Eddie Betts

This. Keeps. Happening.

In case you needed a reminder about the racism that still exists, both in footy and Australian society in general, a fan at last night’s AFL game at Adelaide Oval has helpfully obliged, throwing a banana at indigenous player Eddie Betts.

Video posted to social media by another member of the crowd shows a woman in a Port Adelaide scarf giving the Adelaide forward the finger after he kicked his fifth goal of the match, in what was also his 250th career game of league football. She then reached down and pulled out the piece of fruit, before throwing it onto the field in Betts’ direction.

Both Adelaide and Port Adelaide released statements condemning the incident, with the latter club pledging to investigate the supporter involved. According to a statement posted on a Port Adelaide fan page, the woman has since been identified and had her name reported to the club.

The racial implications of throwing a banana at an indigenous footballer should be pretty clear, especially after Sydney player Adam Goodes was called an “ape” by a 13-year-old Collingwood supporter back in 2013. Goodes was consistently booed throughout the later parts of his career, particularly after he performed an indigenous war dance as part of a goal celebration during the AFL’s annual Indigenous Round last year. Goodes, along with many other people, maintained that the booing was racially motivated. It eventually got so bad that he took a leave of absence from the game, before retiring at the end of the season.

This. Keeps. Happening.

Goodes and Betts are far from the only players to cop this kind of abuse. The flagship game of this year’s Indigenous Round, Dreamtime at the ‘G, was marred by multiple instances of racial vilification from fans. It’s not just reserved for indigenous players, either. Richmond’s Bachar Houli, one of the league’s few Muslim players, was allegedly called a terrorist in 2015, while Western Bulldogs player Lin Jong, who is of Taiwanese and East Timorese heritage, was the subject of racist remarks at a game in April. And please, let’s not forget the recent clusterfuck that saw Collingwood president Eddie McGuire joke about how he’d like to see female football journalist Caroline Wilson drowned.

The AFL, to its credit, has taken a number of steps in recent years to make the game more inclusive, while also attempting to weed out discriminatory behaviour. Although it took them way too long to condemn the Goodes booing as racist, the Indigenous Round is generally seen as a big success. Last week also saw the launch of the first ever LGBTQI Pride Match, while the highly anticipated inaugural women’s league kicks off early next year.

Even so, this kind of behaviour from fans is obviously a massive problem, and one that makes me feel genuinely embarrassed to talk about how much I love the game. Supporters and commentators often describe players ducking to draw high tackles as “a blight on the game.” Perhaps they should be a little bit more vocal about this issue instead.

Oh, and for the record? Adelaide won.

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