Banana thrower raises Aussie Rules racism fears

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

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. –

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