The Port Adelaide Football Club says it has investigated racism cases, including a woman who admits to calling Adelaide’s indigenous forward Betts an ape.
This afternoon, the club confirmed it had also completed its investigation into an allegation that Ryder was racially vilified by an Adelaide supporter during Saturday’s top-of-the-table grudge match – interviewing witnesses, including immediate family of a club official – and resolved the ruckman had been subject to racial abuse.
In a statement, the Power said fellow spectators had challenged the Crows supporter on his remarks and “the offender ran away before stadium security could be alerted”.
“As a result, an official report with Adelaide Oval Stadium Management could not be lodged,” the club said.
Port also said another male spectator who racially abused Betts during the match had been determined to be a club member whose “membership card was confiscated on the night and his membership suspended indefinitely”.
“The club is waiting on a full report from the stadium and SA Police before further action is taken,” the statement said.
Port CEO Keith Thomas said the club is “very disturbed” by the incidents.
“As a club we are sickened by these reports that are at complete odds with the values of our club, represented in our spectator code of conduct,” he said.
“We simply will not tolerate this behaviour.
“As a club and an industry we need to continue to educate football supporters that this type of behaviour is not acceptable at our games or in society more broadly.”
Thomas said the club would work with their member to “educate him on what we expect from our community when it comes to racist behaviour”, while calling on the Crows supporter to come forward.
“We would welcome him to also take part in our highly-regarded cultural awareness sessions with our Aboriginal Program Director Paul Vandenbergh,” Thomas said.
“Education and persistence is the key to better outcomes.”
The incidents today prompted a groundswell of support for both players, with eight indigenous AFL stars penning a joint letter saying their treatment “because of the colour of their skin is absolutely unacceptable” and lamenting that “racial vilification has been a part of our game for too long”.
The eight players, including former Port premiership star and current Hawks veteran Shaun Burgoyne and Ryder’s teammate Chad Wingard, said without a greater focus on respect for diversity the AFL risks “losing the next Adam Goodes, Andrew McLeod, Buddy Franklin or Cyril Rioli”.
The response followed a nasty fallout from the weekend’s Showdown, with a 31-year-old woman claiming she’s received death threats after labelling Betts an ape on a social media post and writing he “should go back to the zoo where him and his family belong”.
The woman, Port supporter Maxine Spratt, made the comments on Facebook after Saturday’s night match.
Port is unlikely to be able to take any action against Spratt as she’s not a member of the club, though Facebook has deactivated her account.
Spratt says she didn’t believe calling someone an ape was racist “because I’m part Aboriginal myself”, adding she was now fearing for her safety.
“There’s been a few people that want to smash my face in and beat me and my partner up,” she told the Seven Network.
It’s not her fault she doesn’t like these players
Her partner Kevin Edwards defended Spratt, who also posted a defamatory insult against Crows captain Taylor Walker, telling Channel 7: “It’s not her fault she doesn’t like these players.”
Late today SA Police advised they had reported a 31-year-old western suburbs woman for using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence, following an investigation by the Serious Crime Task Force.
“The investigation followed an incident where the woman allegedly posted racist comments on Facebook,” police said in a statement.
“She will be summonsed to appear at the Adelaide Magistrates Court at a later date.”
Port had previously banned a female member last year for throwing a banana at Betts during a game against the Crows.
Adelaide Crows chief executive Andrew Fagan said his club “strongly condemns any such behaviour and finds it abhorrent and disgusting”.
“In listening to our playing group and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players in particular, it is clear how damaging and impactful racism is to them and their families,” Fagan said in a statement this morning.
“Our entire playing group and our club stand together on this, unequivocally.”
This has been happening for far too long and we, as indigenous footballers, have had enough
Leading indigenous player Shaun Burgoyne, a four-time premiership star who chairs the AFL Players’ Indigenous Advisory Board, says indigenous players are saddening by ongoing racial vilification.
“This has been happening for far too long and we, as indigenous footballers, have had enough,” Burgoyne said in a statement today.
“We deserve more respect than we are being shown.
“While it’s heartening that these incidents are being called out, there’s a lot of work to do before we can claim to be a truly inclusive game.”
Burgoyne, his deputy chair Neville Jetta and six other indigenous AFL players, including Port’s Chad Wingard, have penned an open letter to the football community, asking: “How long must we put up with this?”
The other signatories are Docker and former Power star Danyle Pearce, his teammate Michael Johnson, Brisbane’s Allen Christensen, GWS Giant Jarrod Pickett and Tiger Shane Edwards.
“Racial vilification has been a part of our game for too long,” the letter reads.
“That both Eddie and Patrick were abused because of the colour of their skin is absolutely unacceptable and we, as the AFL Players’ Indigenous Advisory Board, have had enough.
“These are more than just words and the impact these slurs have on the player, their family, their children and their community is profound.
“Despite the amazing work done in the community by our brothers and sisters, they continue to experience this disgraceful treatment.
“There’s no room in our game for any form of vilification, whether it’s based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Anyone who thinks that this is an acceptable way to act is no football fan.
“Unless the industry, and society for that matter, can show greater respect for diversity then we risk losing the next Adam Goodes, Andrew McLeod, Buddy Franklin or Cyril Rioli.
“We want football fans to barrack for their club with passion, but shouting abuse at an opposition player and targeting their race needs to stop. Keep this in mind when you watch the football this weekend and help us stop racism.”
Meanwhile, the AFL said its integrity unit had been working with SA Police on the reported incidents, and been in contact with both clubs and “affected individuals”.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said in a statement: “Racism is hurtful and damaging to individuals and communities, and when it happens in football, we must call it out.”
“Our game has a responsibility to our players, and a role to play in the community on issues of racism and vilification,” he said.
“Our players deserve respect, and we ask that people understand the impact of their comments on them, their families and our community.”
Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh said “no AFL footballer, and no person for that matter, should have to experience any form of vilification in their workplace”.
“Football is a fierce game and players love the passion fans show for their team, but the racial vilification that continues to happen must stop,” he said.
“As an industry we have a responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure incidents like this are a thing of the past.
“Indigenous people make an enormous contribution to our game and the football community owes them more respect.”
Port chairman David Koch told FIVEaa the club was looking into whether Spratt was a club member, “and if so we will take the appropriate action”.
In general the crowd was really well-behaved… the behaviour was no different to any other AFL game
However he said the Stadium Management Authority reported that the over-capacity 53,698-strong crowd was “quite well behaved” overall.
“Their initial report on Sunday morning to us was that in general the crowd was really well-behaved and the behaviour was no different to any other AFL game,” he said.
“We’re waiting on a more detailed report from them.”
Power fan behind racist Facebook posts about Eddie Betts says she has received death threats. #elspethhussey7 https://t.co/4247WEtnXI
— 7 News Adelaide (@7NewsAdelaide) April 10, 2017
Koch said that the club was trying to verify a number of reports on social media about crowd behaviour, including that a woman had been “king-hit” from behind.
“Particularly with Showdowns there are tiny minorities from both clubs who will say things on social media, which when under further investigation don’t stand up as correct, when each side tries to paint the others in a worse light,” he said.
“I’m always pretty cautious about responding to this – particularly anything that’s put up on social media from both sides, even our own members or supporters.
“We try and check it out [but] we take a very objective view of it.”
Last August, Port indefinitely banned club member Alexandra Pelosi after she threw a banana at Betts during a game. She was also fined by police for disorderly behaviour.
At the time, Betts called for greater education about racism.
“No one is born racist,” Betts said last August.
“It is ingrained in them somewhere down the track. It all comes down to that, to be educated.”
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