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Goodes apology too late, says Sydney star

Football

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan’s apology to Adam Goodes has come far too late, according to Sydney defender Ted Richards.

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McLachlan acknowledged yesterday that the AFL should have acted sooner during last year’s racism affair, but Richards says the belated apology should have been offered at the time.

“It’s great to see that Gillon has acknowledged that now but it really would have been appreciated a lot earlier last year,” Richards told SEN Breakfast.

“The apology [and acknowledgement] that Adam was doing it tough and he wasn’t getting the respect… I really do think it was needed because Goodesy needed help and he wasn’t getting it.”

Richards also suggested that opposition teams did more to support Goodes at the time than the sport’s governing body.

McLachlan last year suggested anyone who booed Goodes was a racist, but failed to set up plans to deal with the drama, which ultimately saw the Sydney veteran skip the grand final parade of retiring players after walking away from the sport.

“As a playing group we were disappointed that the AFL didn’t act earlier,” Richards said.

“We really respected and appreciated the support that a lot of the other opposing captains showed throughout the season, especially after things got worse.”

McLachlan said in the league’s annual report that the game took too long to respond when fans were booing Goodes during matches.

Goodes took time away from the game, missing his side’s win over Adelaide, because of the controversy.

“By the time Adam retired, he had been subject to a level of crowd booing and behaviour that none of our players should ever face,” McLachlan said.

“The debate that occurred about whether or not the booing was due to racism put further pressure on this great indigenous leader and one of our games greatest champions.

“Adam stood up to represent indigenous people and he took a stand on racism.

“For this, I believe he was subject to hostility from some in our crowds.

“As a game, we should have acted sooner and I am sorry we acted too slowly.”

McLachlan added he was proud of how the community, players from all clubs and Swans fans supported Goodes during his break and when he returned to the game.

“The national conversation about racism taught me how important our role is to partner with all players to fight racism,” McLachlan said.

“Adam has led with courage and humility and I look forward to the day our game can properly celebrate the retirement of this great champion.”

As always, the AFL season launch in Melbourne on Thursday night featured a video presentation commemorating last year’s grand final.

The video focused on Hawks star Cyril Rioli and his indigenous background.

Rioli won the Norm Smith Medal for best afield in the grand final as the Hawks beat West Coast for their third straight premiership.

-AAP

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