Aussies rally in support of booed indigenous player
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.