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Banana thrown at indigenous Aussie Rules star as racism continues to dog the sport

The woman has been hit with an indefinite ban by Port Adelaide, but has also been inducted to the club’s social awareness program.

Eddie Betts battles for the ball with Jack McCaffrey and Neil McGee in 2013.
Eddie Betts battles for the ball with Jack McCaffrey and Neil McGee in 2013.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

A FAN WHO threw a banana at an indigenous Aussie Rules star at a weekend game has once again provoked a racism controversy within the Australian Football League (AFL).

A 24-year-old woman appeared on a Facebook video throwing a banana in the direction of Adelaide Crows’ Eddie Betts.

Port Adelaide investigated the incident after Saturday’s local derby, concluding it was racially motivated and imposed an indefinite AFL ban on the woman. The club added that the woman has agreed to take part in a cultural awareness program.

“She quite clearly recognises that she’s made a terrible mistake and we’ll work with her on that,” a club spokesman said.

The supporter was seen waving her middle finger at Betts before throwing the banana in his direction, according to witnesses.

Betts had just kicked his fifth goal in his 250th AFL game, and did not notice the incident.

The AFL has been dogged by racially-motivated incidents at matches in the past.

“We’re a club, we’re an industry, we’re a code that doesn’t shirk away from these sorts of incidents,” Port Adelaide chairman David Koch said.

Eddie Betts Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“If it was racially motivated, not only would she be banned for life from the club, we would encourage her to come and sit with our players, our Aboriginal players and try to understand what these actions mean to them.”

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says he saw the incident as an “unambiguously racist” act that left him “disheartened”.

“We’re certainly asking our crowds to call out this behaviour. A silver lining in this has been the calling out from the crowd at the game and also the football community,” McLachlan told reporters Monday.

Aussie Rules columnist Rohan Connolly, writing in The Age newspaper said: “AFL football continues to be embarrassed by a small but seemingly very defiant minority who think that paying an admission price entitles them to inflict disgustingly racist attitudes not only on the targets of their abuse, but on the rest of us as well.

“What’s most disappointing is that this has happened at all in light of the sad exit from AFL football forced upon one of the champions of the game, Adam Goodes, last year.”

Goodes, one of Australia’s most high-profile indigenous sportsmen, retired from the game after he was subject to repeated booing last season.

Intensified

Many believed the booing was racially motivated and stemmed from him taking exception to being called an “ape” by a young spectator at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2013.

Such abuse reportedly intensified after he performed an Aboriginal war dance during a match in May.

The 36-year-old former Australian of the Year played 372 games for the Sydney Swans, was a two-time Brownlow Medallist, a four-time All-Australian and co-captained the Swans from 2009 to 2012.

Australia’s sporting codes have supported an anti-racism campaign, “Racism. It Stops with Me”, in recent years, with major clubs and prominent sportsmen signing up to promote better awareness.

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