Indigenous Footballers Have Spoken Out About Racist Abuse From AFL Fans

"How long must we put up with this?"

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Over the weekend, more than 50,000 footy fans flocked to Adelaide Oval to witness a thrilling top-of-the-tables clash between cross-town rivals Adelaide and Port Adelaide.

Unfortunately, as is all too common at games of AFL football, the night was marred by a number of appalling instances of racial abuse directed towards Indigenous players.

According to The Age, Port Adelaide has suspended the membership of a fan who reportedly called Adelaide forward Eddie Betts an “ape”, while another fan has had her Facebook account shut down after she posted a racist diatribe saying Betts should “go back to the zoo where him and his family belong.” A third man, an Adelaide supporter, reportedly vilified Port Adelaide ruckman Paddy Ryder, but left the stadium before he could be identified.

This all comes less than a year after a woman threw a banana at Betts during the previous clash between the two sides.

The AFL was quick to condemn the behaviour of fans at Adelaide Oval, with league CEO Gillon McLachlan asking other supporters to keep “calling out bad behaviour”. “Racism wounds people, it hurts communities, and racism has no place in our game,” he said.

Meanwhile, the AFL Players’ Indigenous Advisory Board has penned an open letter slamming racial vilification as “absolutely unacceptable”.

“How long must we put up with this?” the letter reads. “These are more than just words and the impact these slurs have on the player, their family, their children and their community is profound. Despite the amazing work done in the community by our brothers and sisters, they continue to experience this disgraceful treatment.”

“There’s no room in our game for any form of vilification, whether it’s based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Anyone who thinks that this is an acceptable way to act is no football fan. Unless the industry, and society for that matter, can show greater respect for diversity then we risk losing the next Adam Goodes, Andrew McLeod, Buddy Franklin or Cyril Rioli.”

The letter, where you can read in full on the AFL Players’ Association website, has been signed by Indigenous players Shaun Burgoyne, Neville Jetta, Chad Wingard, Danyle Pearce, Allen Christensen, Jarrod Pickett, Michael Johnson and Shane Edwards.