AFL embraces UK plan

SPORT:

The Australian Football League is enthusiastically backing and may even expand on a British plan aimed at banning racist fans from football match crowds, thus eliminating ugly incidents from the stands or even on the playing field as shown above (file photo).

The UK’s Premier League has announced its “No Room for Racism” strategy to swiftly identify racist or abusive behaviour by fans and to ban offenders from all football club stands and grounds. (pictured right, below)

The idea has attracted the attention of administrators of all Australian codes including the AFL, NRL, and ARU.

But an AFL spokesperson said the code’s leadership had already decided that the time was right to adopt the plan here on a national basis.

“Our game has weathered regular and high-profile episodes of racial abuse of players,” an AFL spokesperson said.

“We’ve seen racist remarks hurled at players from fans in the stands as well as abuse of indigenous players by opposing team members on the field, and recently a mix of both when Adelaide Crows forward Taylor Walker was forced to apologise for remarks he directed as a spectator toward North Adelaide’s Robbie Young.

“We all recall the booing and abuse Adam Goodes experienced a few years back and we can all remember the bungled efforts Eddie McGuire made to address racism at the Collingwood club.

“Hell, you can go way back almost 30 y= ears to St Kilda player Nicky Winmar’s famous reaction to vilification from Collingwood fans.

“So we recognise the AFL has a very serious problem with racism and racist fans.

“We think the idea of banning fans from the grounds is the way to go and we think now is exactly the right time to do it.

“To be honest that’s not because we’re serious about tackling racism, it’s just that we’ve already been playing matches with no spectators during the coronavirus pandemic so if we ban all racist fans we hope nobody will notice the empty stands,” the spokesperson said.