Aussies rally in sup­port of booed in­dige­nous player

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Aus­tralians have ral­lied be­hind one of the coun­try’s most high­pro­file in­dige­nous play­ers af­ter he was per­sis­tently booed at games, show­ing their sup­port at football sta­di­ums and on so­cial media with #IS­tand­With­Adam.

The jeers dur­ing matches in­volv­ing Syd­ney Swans’ Aus­tralian Rules football star Adam Goodes have sparked ac­cu­sa­tions of racism, with the for­mer Aus­tralian of the Year tak­ing an in­def­i­nite break from play­ing amid the con­tro­versy.

A sea­son-high crowd of al­most 40,000 peo­ple at the Syd­ney Cricket Ground raised their voices in uni­son to cheer the ab­sent Goodes in an emo­tion­ally charged game be­tween the Swans and the Ade­laide Crows on Satur­day.

The sta­dium was dot­ted with Abo­rig­i­nal flags and fans wear­ing Goodes’s play­ing num­ber 37, while oth­ers raised home­made signs in­clud­ing “Love Goodes, racism bad” and “Adam Goodes! We ap­plaud and re­spect you.”

Swans play­ers ran into the sta­dium through a mas­sive ban­ner em­bla­zoned with the word “RE­SPECT” as the team’s chair­man An­drew Prid­ham slammed Goodes’s crit­ics in a pre-match speech.

“I be­lieve that the events of the last week are a sem­i­nal mo­ment in our history — per­haps it was a mo­ment that our na­tion needed to have,” Prid­ham said.

“Adam Goodes has been booed re­lent­lessly be­cause he’s Abo­rig­i­nal and be­cause he’s had the courage to stand and speak about mat­ters close to his heart,” he added, com­par­ing the player to Amer­i­can 1960s civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

Abo­rig­ines are be­lieved to have num­bered around one mil­lion at the time of Bri­tish set­tle­ment in 1788, but there are now just 470,000 out of a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of 23 mil­lion.

They are the na­tion’s most dis­ad­van­taged, with few mak­ing it as elite ath­letes.

The boo­ing is be­lieved to have stemmed from Goodes tak­ing ex­cep­tion to be­ing called an ape by a young spec­ta­tor at the Mel­bourne Cricket Ground in 2013, with the abuse re­port­edly in­ten­si­fy­ing af­ter he per­formed an Abo­rig­i­nal war dance dur­ing a match in May.

AFL play­ers and fans at other matches on Fri­day and Satur­day also ex­pressed their sol­i­dar­ity with Goodes.

On Twit­ter, #IS­tand­With­Adam trended as Aus­tralians posted mes­sages of sup­port and pho­to­graphs of them­selves with the num­ber 37 in a cam­paign backed by Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weav­ing.

Not ev­ery­one has backed the cam­paign, with some prom­i­nent per­son­al­i­ties in­clud­ing for­mer crick­eter Shane Warne de­fend­ing the right of AFL fans to boo.

“This whole Adam Goodes drama is ridicu­lous. The public can boo or chant who­ever’s name they want! It’s noth­ing to do with be­ing racist ... ” Warne tweeted on Thurs­day.

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