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What on earth is going on? Are we stuck in a time warp? I can’t believe that in 2011, before the season has reached it’s halfway point, the three premier football competitions in the country have had a collective four incidents where players have been racially vilified.
Appalling. Disgusting. Disgraceful.
As a football fan who buys his membership every year and goes to between 15 and 20 games, I am embarrassed to be tarred with the same brush as the ignorant dinosaurs that for some bizarre reason, think that it is okay and acceptable to abuse players based on the colour of his skin, or the country he was born in, or the race of his parents. It doesn’t matter.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the passion of the football fan. The way football gets our blood flowing and our lungs screaming. But scream for your team. Scream against the other team too if you need. But there are millions of things yelled out by the tens of thousands of supporters at every match.
Some funny, some not.
But there is a line that not only shouldn’t be crossed, nobody should go anywhere near that line. Yell out to a player that they don’t have a left foot, or that they made the wrong decision. Yell out to the umpire that he needs glasses. But do not, ever, abuse a player based on their race. Or their religion.
Or their mental health. Or for that matter their sexuality.
Football is yet to have a player out themselves as gay, even though the ratio of homosexuals to heterosexuals worldwide says that there surely has been one. Probably many more.
But is it any wonder no player has felt comfortable enough to do so? As a football community, there are still some amongst us that think that it’s ok to scream abuse at a player because of his skin colour.
In a matter of weeks, it has been revealed that Lance Franklin (AFL), Daniel Motlop and Danyle Pearce (SANFL) have been racially abused from over the fence. On Saturday, on the VFL match of the day, North Melbourne rookie Majak Daw was also abused based on his heritage and the colour of his skin.
Most concerning, was that the abuse went on for a whole quarter before this imbecile was removed. He should be banned for life. And how the people around him allowed it to go on for a whole quarter is also very disappointing.
The fact that a young kid who came to Australia after leaving his country of origin, without knowing a word of English, got himself an education and passed his VCE, and then learnt our game, and with his natural athletic ability, landed a contract with one of (then) 16 AFL clubs is a phenomenal story.
I was at a Werribee match a couple of weeks ago, when Daw took a screamer on the boundary about 45m out from goal, then went back and after the three-quarter time siren slotted the goal.
The roar from the small crowd was 10 times that of any other cheer for the whole day. This kid should be celebrated and supported. I hope he doesn’t think that all football fans are like that fool at Port Melbourne yesterday.
Aboriginal players have been a fixture of our game for many years, and some of the very best players our game has ever seen are of Aboriginal heritage: Polly Farmer. Maurice Rioli. Michael Long. Adam Goodes. Lance Franklin. Andrew McLeod. Gavin Wanganeen. Brownlow, Norm Smith and Coleman Medallists.
In recent years our game has started to expand with more and more internationally born players. Fijian-born Nic Naitanui is an absolutely exceptional talent, he is the ability to completely change the game. Mal Michael was born in Papua New Guinea and he won three premierships and was a member of the AFL Queensland Team of the Century.
As football fans, we should be counting ourselves as lucky and privileged to watch these talented players. Players who take our breath away. Players who play in teams that win premierships for the clubs we love.
Thank God that the time of racism on the field is a thing of the past. I can only hope that even though it is such a small minority of fans that are guilty of this rubbish, that those who hold these prehistoric views can stay home.
Please, we do not want you.