What The AFL Must Do After The Latest 'Cowardly' Racist Slur
The fact that this headline contains the word "latest" is sickening.
It'd be bad enough if we were talking about a one-off racist slur against Eddie Betts. But for whatever reason, there have been multiple vile outbursts against the champion footballer.
And now it's time to act.
On Friday night, as Betts entered Marvel Stadium for AFLX, he looked mighty fine in his pink blazer and Adidas sneakers. Players were encouraged to arrive in style as part of the AFLX carnival atmosphere, and 32-year-old Betts did just that.
The Crows captured it on an Instagram post. And while most people absolutely loved it, there was one comment which struck all decent football fans like a Sherrin kicked point blank in the gut.
You can see it below. It was, if you'll excuse the pun, extremely unedifying, and we've scratched-out the name of the person who said it.
Betts, never one to let this sort of behaviour go unchallenged, helped draw the world's attention to the comment in typically understated fashion. Not with anger or indignation (which he surely felt) but with simple bewilderment.
"When will it stop, why can't we just play footy?" he asked.
"Why can't we just all get along?"
Senior football figures were quick to add their condemnation. Everyone from fellow players to players' groups to administrators had their say. Paul Marsh, CEO of the AFL Players Association, called it "disgraceful and cowardly".
Meanwhile, AFL general manager of inclusion and social policy, Tanya Hosch, said she had contacted Betts, and said: "you can't help but be concerned for the individual when something like this happens".
"All Eddie was doing on Friday night was his job. He was just doing his job."
And now the AFL must do its job.
As the governing body of the game, its job is now obvious. It must eject racists for life. It must find out who these people are -- whether they're sitting in seat 99 in row ZZ, or whether they're just out there on the internet somewhere -- and it must ban them.
The AFL must do better than saying "you can't help but be concerned" because while sure, it's concerning, it's much more than that.
It is sickening and saddening and utterly soul-destroying. And that's just from the perspective of the fan. Imagine how Eddie Betts himself feels.
This is a man who does so much to support indigenous causes away from footy, and who brings so much joy in the way he plays, the way he conducts himself, the way he interacts with fans.
To make a racist slur against a player of Betts' standing is to slur the game itself. And if that's how you feel, you're not welcome. Ever. And the AFL should put that in writing.