Culture

AFL Teams Are Taking A Stand After Indigenous Star Liam Ryan Was Abused On Social Media

"For many, the term monkey or ape, can be seen as just name calling. But for Aboriginal people, it cuts much, much deeper than that."

West Coast Eagles, AFL Clubs take a stand against racism following Liam Ryan abuse

AFL clubs are taking a stand against racism after Indigenous player Liam Ryan was subject to horrific racial abuse on social media.

A Richmond supporter who left comments on an Instagram photograph of Ryan calling him “a monkey” has had his membership suspended for two years. In a statement, Richmond said “racial vilification has no place in our game, and no place in our society”, while club vice-captain Jack Riewoldt called the behaviour of fans on social media “embarrassing”.

“Social media can be fantastic but it also gives neanderthals a disguise to hide behind a keyboard and say stuff, where they might get a laugh out of two of their mates that have the same type of views that are just totally wrong,” Riewoldt said.

Ryan’s own club, reigning premiers West Coast, released a video featuring Aboriginal Liaison Officer Phil Narkle and development coach Chance Bateman. The pair spoke about the impact of racism while the players, including Ryan, as well as head coach Adam Simpson, stood united behind them.

“We are united at this club and we do not accept or tolerate racism,” said Narkle. “When will this end?”

“For many, the term monkey or ape, can be seen as just name calling. But for Aboriginal people, it cuts much, much deeper than that,” explained Bateman.

“It is a throwback to early settlement when this land was settled under terra nullius, or no man’s land. The reason for that is because Aboriginal people weren’t thought of as human beings. We were thought of as a subhuman species and that decision to settle the land under those terms triggered some of the most horrific, degrading and inhumane treatment of some of our men, women, children and babies.”

“Whenever you hear that these players need to harden up and it’s just name calling, we hope you can support them and educate others on why the term is so offensive to our people.”

A number of other clubs have also added their voices to the call to stamp out racism in the game.

Racist abuse is an ongoing problem for the AFL. In recent years, Indigenous players including Paddy Ryder and Eddie Betts have been targeted on social media and at games, as has Muslim player Bachar Houli. The racist booing of Adam Goodes was so appalling he ultimately stepped away from the sport altogether.

This latest incident comes just days after a photo of AFLW star Tayla Harris was inundated with misogynistic comments which she likened to “sexual abuse”. The football community subsequently rallied around Harris, and it’s good to see them doing the same to Ryan.