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Players union to reinvestigate Crows camp after Betts revelations

Football

The AFL Players Association believes Adelaide players were pressured to keep quiet about a notorious post-season camp, after former star player Eddie Betts revealed his trauma at the treatment he received.

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The AFL Players Association said yesterday that it would be recontacting all of the Adelaide players from 2018.

Betts, meanwhile, wants an apology from the AFL, which he believes should have taken stronger action.

“On the back of the new information that has emerged, the AFLPA will be contacting all Adelaide players from 2018 to seek a better understanding of the details of the camp and any individual issues that may have arisen from it,” AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh said.

“We are extremely concerned about this (new) information on three levels. Firstly, the lack of psychological safety afforded to the entire playing group, secondly the cultural appropriation of Indigenous artefacts and, thirdly, the deliberate gathering of confidential information on players for the purpose of harmfully misusing the information.”

A SafeWork SA investigation into the camp was closed last year, after finding no breaches of the Work Health & Safety Act.

An AFL investigation also cleared the Crows, but Betts disagrees, telling Fox Sports last night that he felt the AFL had enough information to take action.

He now wants the AFL to apologise.

“I told them everything, the way that I was feeling and how I was feeling. I just felt like my voice wasn’t being heard. And I felt like I needed justice. And I guess you know, it did hurt at first when nothing was done,” he told Fox program AFL360.

“I think that’s probably one of the easiest things to do is say sorry…”

Betts also said the players were discouraged from talking about what happened at the camp, even to each other.

“We weren’t allowed to say anything to anybody,” he said. “We weren’t even allowed to tell teammates. To this day, our teammates still don’t even know what we did in our group… that’s how we felt very divided.”

The new revelations emerged this week in extracts from Betts’ autobiography, The Boy From Boomerang Crescent.

In the book, Betts claims the experience on the Gold Coast following the Crows’ shock 2017 grand-final loss was “weird” and “disrespectful”.

“There was all sorts of weird shit that was disrespectful to many cultures, but particularly and extremely disrespectful to my culture,” Betts wrote.

“I felt like I’d lost the drive to play footy, and to be honest, I’m not sure I ever had the same energy I did before that camp.”

Adelaide chief executive Tim Silvers, who wasn’t at the Crows at the time of the camp, yesterday publicly and privately apologised to Betts.

Silvers revealed he had texted Betts to apologise and expressed his hope the 350-game AFL legend and his family would one day feel comfortable enough to return to the club.

“We’ve got a leadership and a culture (now) that we’re driving that prioritises others and I think we can move forward, but we would like to say ‘Sorry’ to Eddie and anyone else who had a negative experience throughout the camp,” Silvers said.

“We’ve gone through an investigation through two different avenues, but we are sorry to anyone, any of our playing group, that had a negative experience because players’ welfare and well-being is paramount to our club.

“For someone like Eddie, who has left our club, to have a negative experience saddens me.”

Silvers, who addressed the playing group on the issue on Wednesday, hopes to speak with Betts on the phone later in the week.

Betts said last night he accepted the apology from the club, and hoped that one day his sons might play for Adelaide.

Crows football director Mark Ricciuto addressed the issue on Triple M on Wednesday, with the club legend expressing his hope Betts would be able to move on from the distressing experience.

“It’s sad to hear Eddie write that because he’s been one of the greats of the football club,” Ricciuto said.

“I think the club’s been on record at times to say they acknowledge it wasn’t handled perfectly, it had all good intentions but it didn’t go perfectly.

“We all love Eddie and hopefully Eddie’s getting over that.

“That was four years ago, certainly the club has moved on from that and looking towards the future and have made a lot of ground since then.”

Ricciuto is one of the few remaining senior off-field leaders from the period in question still involved at the club, with coach Don Pyke, chief executive Andrew Fagan and chairman Rob Chapman having left.

Silvers was asked if it was appropriate for Ricciuto to resign given Betts‘ shock revelations.

“I don’t think it’s my place to speak about a director of our board,” he replied.

“What I will say about Mark is that he’s a passionate person who has delivered both on and off the field.”

– with AAP

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