Banana thrower raises Aussie Rules racism fears
A FAN who threw a banana at an indigenous star footballer at a weekend game has once again provoked a racism controversy in the Australian Football League (AFL).
A 24-year-old woman was filmed on social media throwing a banana in the direction of Adelaide Crows indigenous star Eddie Betts.
Port Adelaide investigated after August 20’s local Aussie Rules derby, concluding it was racially motivated and imposing an indefinite AFL ban on the woman.
Port Adelaide said she has agreed to take part in a cultural awareness program run by the club.
“She quite clearly recognises that she’s made a terrible mistake and we’ll work with her on that,” a club spokesperson said.
The supporter was seen waving her middle finger at Betts before throwing the banana in his direction, according to witnesses.
Betts had just kicked his fifth goal in his 250th AFL game, and did not notice the incident.
The AFL has been dogged by racially motivated incidents at matches in the past.
“We’re a club, we’re an industry, we’re a code that doesn’t shirk away from these sorts of incidents,” Port Adelaide chair David Koch said.
“If it was racially motivated, not only would she be banned for life from the club, we would encourage her to come and sit with our players, our Aboriginal players, and try to understand what these actions mean to them.”
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says he saw the incident as an “unambiguously racist” act that left him “disheartened”.
“We’re certainly asking our crowds to call out this behaviour. A silver lining in this has been the calling-out from the crowd at the game and also the football community,” McLachlan told reporters yesterday.
Aussie Rules columnist Rohan Connolly, writing in The Age newspaper, said, “AFL football continues to be embarrassed by a small but seemingly very defiant minority who think that paying an admission price entitles them to inflict disgustingly racist attitudes not only on the targets of their abuse, but on the rest of us as well.
“What’s most disappointing is that this has happened at all in light of the sad exit from AFL football forced upon one of the champions of the game, Adam Goodes, last year.”
Goodes, one of Australia’s most high-profile indigenous sportsmen, retired from the game after he was subject to repeated booing last season.
Many believed the booing was racially motivated and stemmed from him taking exception to being called an “ape” by a young spectator at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2013.
Such abuse reportedly intensified after he performed an Aboriginal war dance during a match in May.
The 36-year-old former Australian of the Year played 372 games for the Sydney Swans, was a two-time Brownlow Medallist, a four-time All-Australian and co-captained the Swans from 2009 to 2012.
Australia’s sporting codes have supported an anti-racism campaign, “Racism. It Stops with Me”, in recent years, with major clubs and prominent sportsmen signing up to promote better awareness. –