It seems some people just don’t learn.
Despite the numerous education campaigns surrounding multicultural diversity by the AFL, it is disappointing that incidents surrounding racial vilification at AFL matches are still occurring.
In the NAB Challenge match at Aurora Stadium between Hawthorn and North Melbourne, a Hawks supporter was ejected from the arena after verbally abusing North Melbourne’s Majak Daw. Daw, who was born in Sudan, made his AFL debut with the Kangaroos last year and is an AFL multicultural ambassador.
Unfortunately, Daw has been the subject of racial abuse previously at both VFL and AFL level, most notably in a match against the Western Bulldogs in May last year. Two male Bulldogs supporters were later ejected from Etihad Stadium after the offending comments directed at Daw.
While the alleged comments last night have yet to be confirmed as having racial undertones, the reaction of fans surrounding the offending Hawks fan appear to suggest that Daw has again been subject to vilification of the worst kind.
Despite the AFL’s repeated attempts of reinforcing the message that racial abuse is not acceptable both on or off the field, unfortunately a mindless minority still feel as though such abuse is acceptable. No matter how educated these people are, it appears the message will not ever sink in, and as such penalties for those caught using abusive language of a racial tone must be more severe.
In addition, this should extend to other unacceptable forms of verbal abuse such as sexist or homophobic language, with the resultant penalty being life bans from the AFL.
The incident of racial abuse directed at current Australian of the Year, Sydney’s Adam Goodes in a match against Collingwood last season should have shown to the viewing public that racial abuse is not an acceptable form of barracking for your club. The later backlash Eddie McGuire copped after his attempt at a humorous commentary of the Goodes’ issue on Melbourne radio was another wake up call.
By putting the message out there that any form of unacceptable abuse by spectators will be met with a life ban, and offending fans will therefore never be able to see their team play live in person ever again, this will reinforce the zero tolerance stance that the league must take in regards to unacceptable verbal abuse.
Majak Daw has done the hard yards to make it as an AFL player. The progress, hard work and sacrifices he has faced have been difficult enough without uninformed idiots in the grandstand shouting out inappropriate mindless comments.
The sooner these fans are banned for life in such cases, the better we as a society will be and attending AFL matches will be a much more pleasurable experience for all.
The time to act is now. All clubs and the AFL must take immediate action to eliminate this ugly scar on our great game.