Oops! – AFL witch hunt for “racists” burns innocent little girl

Australian Rules football is a physically demanding, passionate, emotional and quite violent team sport where virile young men test themselves against each other. In this environment, in the heat of battle, with rivalries flaring, it’s inevitable that players may occasionally say the odd rude thing to each other. Supporters become very passionate also, and their passion is thoroughly encouraged by the administrators of the sport, the leagues and the clubs. And so, inevitably, as has always been part of the game, supporters may occasionally say unpleasant things across the fence at the players on the playing arena. And of course, most of the time, it will never be heard by the players.

The culture of the sport is not like tennis, badminton or lawn bowls. Players and fans “sledging” opposition players is as old as the game is.

Often people are sledged for the most obvious physical feature about themselves. If someone is different in some way, that difference will likely be highlighted by the ones doing the sledging. In one sense, it’s very much like the playground in primary school. Hence the red-headed kids might have been called “carrot top”, the kids with glasses might get called “four-eyes”, and the overweight kids might get called “fatso”. If your ears stick out a little, you might get called “big ears”. And so on and so on. And the black kids… well, you can probably make the connection.

There’s nothing intelligent or thoughtful about sledging. But then, it’s not intended to be intelligent or thoughtful. It’s usually done very much in the heat of the moment, and the seemingly easiest path is often the one taken.

At the football, sometimes the tongue can slip and something inappropriate or over-the-top is said. Human beings are surely not perfect in this regard. And yes, undoubtedly, for a sensitive person, being sledged can be hurtful. Being reminded that you are different, and not one of the dominant or “normal” group in society, can have a hurtful effect.

But just how hurtful being sledged can be, also depends very much on one’s own attitude and perception. If one takes it as “water off a duck’s back”, it will not hurt so much or won’t hurt at all. But if one is continually taught and conditioned to believe that they are too precious to be sledged, and should feel very wounded and humiliated by it, if it does happen, then they will likely feel very wounded and humiliated by it. This would help to explain why people with glasses are not usually as offended by sledging, as a member of an ethnic minority is, should they be racially sledged. In other words, much of the hurtfulness is in the eye of the beholder.

Of course as we mature, most people grow out of making childish jibes, just as most people grow out of being offended by them. But in the passionate environment of Australian Rules football, those jibes can sometimes return for adult players. But for the vast bulk of the history of the game, players knew not to make a big deal about what might have been said to them out on the field, or by a passionate opposition supporter from the other side of the fence. Occasionally, their honour and dignity may have been offended by some insensitive remark, but it was accepted that this was one of the small inconveniences that came with the privilege of being a famous footballer playing in an elite league. Common sense prevailed.

Then along came the dominant new pseudo morality of political correctness, an ideology arising out of Cultural Marxism, and the new culture of “victimhood”. Certain groups in our society learned very quickly that if they assumed the role of a “victim”, this would bring them much public sympathy, support, and legislative empowerment. Along came the Nanny State, which was out to control people’s behaviour and to protect the aggrieved.

Members of ethnic minorities were taught that it was not merely rude, but rather, that it was now a tremendous moral sin, if someone dared to offend their dignity by making negative reference, or in some cases, even any reference, to their ethnic background.

The Australian Football League (AFL) is the elite national league, and also (some would say foolishly), the national governing body of Australian Rules football in Australia . Following a complaint by an aboriginal player of being called a “black bastard” by a white player back in 1995, the AFL decided to introduce an unprecedented Racial Vilification code, undoubtedly intended to protect minorities, so that any player who transgressed, would face fines or suspension by the AFL, (as well as considerable public shaming for being perceived as a “racist”). Instead of such sensitive matters involving high-profile footballers being dealt with privately and internally by football clubs, the AFL was going to “make a public stand”.

Eager to try and win favour with its aboriginal supporter and player base, and win brownie points with their fellow politically correct extremists pushing this new pseudo morality, the AFL was going to take to “racism” with a sledge hammer. And to the AFL, it wasn’t just about football. They were making a statement about “racism” in society generally! The hugely influential AFL had suddenly become a very political organisation. They had actively taken sides in the Culture War. And with all the zeal of the Spanish Inquisition, the PC-inspired AFL saw it as their sacred mission to “stamp out” the modern day heresy of “racism”.

The ultra-PC AFL had jumped on the great anti-racism bandwagon. (And since then, they have jumped on quite a few other social activist bandwagons, be it ANZAC Day, breast cancer awareness, celebrating aboriginality, and more recently, even the homosexual bandwagon. Some people, of course, believe they should stick to focusing on actual football).

Inevitably, one thing led to another. Whereas once the culture in football was an ethos of “what gets said on the field, should stay on the field”, now a new culture of dobbing and victimhood emerged. The AFL had slid down a considerable slippery slope. Soon enough, the AFL’s highly paid and much publicised players, were demanding protection from sledging on religious and other grounds. Players wanted protection from having their mothers or family members insulted. Eventually, suggesting that a rival player may be homosexual was also deemed unacceptable. But as yet, there’s no rules to protect red-heads.

And as the expectation grew that players not feel insulted, or have their vanity offended, the public expectation that players not be subjected to racial taunts, reached hysterical proportions. It was written into players’ contracts that they must not transgress. The individual AFL clubs brought in their own club sanctions. The AFL had brought in programmes to “educate” their players about the value of minority cultures, and to plead with their players not to break this cardinal sin.

No quarter would be given. There would be a “Zero Tolerance” approach. Slips of the tongue in the heat of battle, would NOT be forgiven. Not by the AFL, nor by the AFL-influenced public. The public was encouraged to believe, by implication, that any transgressors who slipped up, must be truly terrible people. The public was also encouraged to believe that any player subjected to a racial taunt would be experiencing a tremendous psychological and emotional blow. Strangely though, any player who did experience a racial taunt didn’t ever need any bereavement leave, and they always managed to pull on the boots the following weekend.

But it wasn’t just the AFL jumping on the extremist PC bandwagon, and going after those dastardly “racists”. In June 2012, the then Victorian Liberal-National Coalition Premier “Red” Ted Baillieu “declared war on racism in football” and vowed “government support for initiatives to stamp out ugly rants, with new technology and streamlined laws”. Suddenly, the stakes were upped. Now the PC bullies were not just going after players, they were going hard after any heretical supporter in the stands who, in their consumed passion of watching an AFL game, may dare to say something of a racial nature.

The witch hunt by the Thought Police was now really on and it had just expanded significantly. In May 2013, North Melbourne senior coach Brad Scott, backed up by AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, encouraged fans to “dob in racist supporters”. Scott was upset that two of his North Melbourne players had been the subject of racial abuse in the stands, even though he admitted that neither of his players had actually heard the offending comments. But that no longer mattered. The great crackdown on racial sledging was no longer about protecting the players. It was now about a much larger agenda – the Cultural Marxist bullies wanted to control the entire public’s behaviour, and the public’s very thoughts.

One of the problems with pursuing such zealotry on matters of public speech, is that inevitably, innocent people can end up getting very hurt. In March 2012, Adelaide Crows national recruiting manager Matt Rendell was forced to quit, over a comment regarding aboriginal players that he allegedly made in a completely private conversation with AFL community engagement manager Jason Mifsud. The comment, based entirely on Mifsud’s recollection of a conversation, went public, and, as can happen when one is publicly inferred to be a “racist”, the mud can stick.

Following his forced resignation, Rendell appeared on Channel Nine’s “Footy Classified”. Like an accused heretic facing a tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition, Rendell desperately pleaded his case. In his highly emotional, even teary address, Rendell insisted that HE wasn’t a “racist”. Not he! It turned out that Rendell had recruited numerous aboriginal players to football clubs, had worked extensively with aboriginal footballers, and had a fine relationship with many of them. Champion aboriginal footballer Andrew McLeod had defended Rendell in the press. His one comment (spoken privately) was nothing more than a “throwaway line” that had been taken out of context.

The public’s response was adamant. Rendell wasn’t a heretic at all. He was a”good bloke”. The witch hunters had wrongly accused a man and that man had been wrongly fired from his job. The AFL ended up with considerable egg on its face.

It wasn’t long before the AFL was further embarrassed, when their official Jason Mifsud was embroiled in another false “racism” claim, involving Melbourne coach Mark Neeld. Mifsud apologised to Neeld, and offered his resignation to the AFL, but it was rejected by AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou. One could wonder how many strikes Mifsud needed.

Which brings us to the latest witch hunt debacle for the AFL.

On Friday night, May 24th 2013, at the start of the AFL’s much-hyped “Indigenous Round”, Collingwood was playing against the 2012 season premiers Sydney. Collingwood played very poorly that night, and Sydney raced away to a big win. As the match was about to end, Sydney’s champion aboriginal footballer Adam Goodes, who was probably the best player on the ground that night, thought he heard a racial slur from one of the fans – a young blonde girl wearing a Collingwood jumper and sitting next to her grandmother in the front row.

The highly paid, highly famed, and highly decorated Goodes undoubtedly believed that he was substantially too precious for his vanity to be offended in any racial manner. And perhaps especially not during “Indigenous Round”! He was genuinely shocked and appalled that he had been seemingly subjected to it, from a young person, whom he thought should have damn well been taught better!

Like an accusing zealot at a centuries-old witch trial, Goodes pointed directly at the probably terrified little girl, as two MCG security guards closed in on the AFL’s latest racist witch-to-be-burned.

The little girl was promptly ordered from her seat. In a disgraceful scene, probably not unlike a public witch-burning in Medieval times, supporters of both clubs booed and hurled vicious, hateful abuse at the heretical and now tearful young Collingwood fan, as she was led away by MCG security guards. Here was a “racist” heretic publicly exposed, and “racists” must NOT be forgiven! Society must not tolerate “racism”!

The very scared little girl was handed over to the stadium police by the MCG security guards. It was no longer just about football. It was now a Victorian police matter and criminal charges could potentially be brought against the young girl. She was detained by the police for the next two hours, whilst her family were told to stay where they were. The police apparently breached their own rules, and gave her a lengthy grilling, with no adult guardian present. Then finally, just past midnight, the tearful little girl was allowed to go home with her grandmother, pending further police enquiries.

What dreadful sin had this terrible little girl committed to warrant such treatment? Had she stolen something valuable, assaulted someone with a weapon, or murdered someone?

No. She’d called Goodes an “ape”.

Nothing more. Just once, she had called him an “ape”.

Perhaps the little girl had been influenced by Channel Nine’s “The AFL Footy Show” where former AFL stars Garry Lyon and Jason Dunstall (both white players), are often jokingly referred to as being primates. The young girl, frustrated that her underperforming Collingwood team had been thrashed by Sydney on the night, perhaps instinctively felt that the fully-bearded Goodes was an apt recipient of her childish jibe. She certainly didn’t realise she had spoken an apparently terrible taboo.

“Racism had a face … and it was a 13-year-old girl,” Goodes said in a press conference the next day, still appearing to target the girl. “But it’s not her fault”, he continued. Goodes wasn’t bearing grudges. He didn’t blame the little girl. Instead it was “society’s fault”. (Or maybe it was Channel Nine’s?)

Substantially politically correct commentators praised Goodes for his apparent “graciousness”, and how reasonable he was to not press criminal charges against the little girl. The young girl apologised to Goodes on the telephone, and wrote him a letter apologising for “being racist”. Some however, would argue emphatically, considering what the little girl and her family had been through, that any apology made should have been the other way round.

But it wasn’t just Goodes in damage control. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou also encouraged the public to support the girl, and not target her. He said in a press conference “Because what this girl needs now is some counselling and some support rather than anyone going after her. I say that genuinely because she’s a very young girl and she’s a minor.” (So, if it was her elderly grandmother instead who was un-PC, it would have been okay to burn her at the stake?)

The AFL’s public witch hunt for “racists” probably wasn’t supposed to burn members of society like innocent children, mentally retarded people, our frail elderly, or people with possibly low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. It was supposed to only get those really evil people who could handle the public outrage.

Demetriou slammed sections of the media who did interviews with the girl and her family, and mentioned her name and showed her face and photograph. Never mind that the girl’s family was struggling financially and willingly did interviews with the press. But Demetriou was NOT happy. He was not happy that the public got to see that the AFL’s falsely accused witch was actually a real person, with a real family, and a real human face. The face of an innocent girl who had only just turned thirteen.

Nor was the AFL’s witch hunt against “racists” supposed to burn any of the AFL establishment’s own outspoken “anti-racist” activists. But soon enough it would.

Collingwood’s high profile president and well-known media star Eddie McGuire was one of those who had lectured the public many times about the evils of “racism”, and had encouraged fans to dob in errant fans. On the Friday night in question, as soon as the game was over, McGuire, never mind consoling his own team following their beating, had rushed into the change rooms of the rival Sydney club, and sought out Goodes, so that on behalf of his Collingwood team, he could deliver a groveling apology to the mighty Aboriginal.

But to McGuire, it wasn’t just about football. In an interview on ABC radio, McGuire said that more work needed to be done to address “racism” in Australian society, and he blamed politicians for sending mixed messages on issues like asylum seekers.

Not wanting to feel left out, champion Collingwood player Harry O’Brien, a black player of Congolese and Brasilian ancestry, also used the opportunity in the media, to lecture Australian society for its apparent endemic “racism”, complaining that he experienced it every day, and slamming Australians for our attitudes towards asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers? Clearly, some in the AFL fraternity have a much broader agenda than merely wanting to protect their precious players from hurtful comments!

In a magnificent irony, just a few days later, the famed Collingwood president, high profile media figure, and committed “anti-racist” zealot Eddie McGuire, became embroiled in his own very public racial controversy, when he absent-mindedly suggested on radio that Adam Goodes could perhaps be used to promote the new musical “King Kong”, about the famed giant ape.

It was an amazingly comical blunder from McGuire, who inevitably, would now feel his own heat and the public’s wrath. Perhaps the experience will teach McGuire (and other anti-racism zealots) just how easy it can be to slip up, with a society that is conditioned to be so incredibly touchy about racial issues. And that maybe, just maybe, they should be a little less judgmental, and a little more forgiving and tolerant towards people who do.

As many have suggested, maybe the week’s racism debacles are a wake-up call for Australia. And, hopefully it IS a wake-up call. A WAKE-UP CALL FOR AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY TO SEE EXACTLY WHERE POLITICALLY CORRECT EXTREMISM AND DRACONIAN RESTRICTIONS ON FREE SPEECH ARE TAKING US.

Perhaps the issue shouldn’t be about whether racial sledging at the footy is acceptable or not. Perhaps the issue should really be about how society (and the AFL) responds to it. Should they use gentle persuasion, or should they use an almighty sledge hammer? It would seem the former is a much more appropriate approach.

As usual, the politically correct thought police are exposed as infinitely greater bullies than any supposed “racists” are. Their punishments are often infinitely more severe than the “crimes”. And as so often happens with witch hunts, the innocent can be wrongly accused and wrongly punished. Last season it was Matt Rendell. This season it was an innocent little girl. And one can bet one’s bottom dollar there will be a few more innocents in the future. Adam Goodes, MCG security, the Victorian government, the Victorian police, and the AFL are the ones who should be apologising. And the AFL and the Victorian government should be repealing their draconian anti- free speech regulations.

MCG defends treatment of girl at centre of Adam Goodes scandal as family expresses anger”, Sunday Herald Sun, 27 May 2013 (Aaron Langmaid)
Adam Goodes ‘gutted’ by racial slur but wants AFL fan educated”, ABC News, 27 May 2013 (Adrian Crawford)
Rendell’s racist comment ‘throwaway line’”, ABC News, 20 March 2012
Footy Classified (Mar 19) – Matt Rendell Interview” [19 Mar 2012], YouTube (video)
Adelaide recruiter Matt Rendell quits over racism row”, News.com.au, 17 March 2012 (Michelangelo Rucci)
McLeod speaks out”, ABC News, 19 March, 2012
Ejected teenage fan didn’t know ‘ape’ was racist”, Hills News, 28 May 2013 (Megan Levy)
AFL employee Jason Mifsud revealed as source of racism allegations directed at Mark Neeld”, Fox Sports, 3 April 2012 (Roger Vaughan and Sam Lienert)
Victoria declares war on racists”, The Courier Mail, 6 June 2012 (Aaron Langmaid and Aleks Devic)
‘Report the racists’: AFL figures demand public speak up”, The Sydney Morning Herald , 2 May 2013 (Rohan Connolly)
AFL boss: media organisations “disgraceful” in exploiting 13 year old girl”, TV Tonight, 28 May 2013 (David Knox)
Collingwood star Harry O’Brien says he lives with discrimination every day”, Herald Sun, 30 May 2013 (Nick Smart)
Frightened 13-year-old hunted by a pack of wolves”, The Daily Telegraph, 29 May 2013 (Miranda Devine)
Miranda Devine: Eddie McGuire ‘cops it on the chin’ for King Kong remark? Pull the other one”, Herald Sun, 30 May 2013 (Miranda Devine)
Racial and Religious Vilification”, AFL Community Club [“AFL Rule 30: A rule to combat racial and religious vilification”]
St Kilda small forward Stephen Milne fined $3000 for gay slur to Collingwood’s Harry O’Brien”, Fox Sports, 9 August 2012 (Greg Buckle)


  1. Considering that science has been telling us for decades that we descended from the Apes, what’s the problem ? Obviously this young girl has been listening to her science teacher, a very astute science student in my opinion.

  2. Goodes isn’t an ape… he’s a beautiful white swan (oops..am I in trouble?)

  3. In England Emma West’s tirade against foreigners on a tram led to her imprisonment for 2 weeks in a maximum security prison “for her own protection”. The Crown Prosecution has pressured her relentlessly with dubious delaying tactics & reports for 18 months’ (with the implied threat that they could take her young son from her) because she originally pleaded NOT guilty. She recently pleaded guilty to a lesser offence & awaits sentancing. She broke the big “R” barrier, but did not incite violence against anyone.

    A white 13-year old cops a 2-hours interrogation with the police for calling a black man an ape. She too did NOT incite violence.

    By contrast the Muslim lady, who in September 2012 took her 3/4 year old son to the Sydney protests & got him to hold up a sign stating “Behead all those who insult the prophet”, went to the police. What happened to her? Maximium security prison? Child taken away?

    Seems to me that political correctivism (an “ism” ideology), will bring the full draconian force of the state down on selective people when it comes to the big “R”, but is broad- based & highly forgiving of multiculturalists. Given the nature of the sign & the recent tragedy in London, the sign appears to be prophetic. There is no smoke without fire.

    Political correctivism as an ideology of justice is both prejudiced & blind, but only when it suits it’s adherents’ virulent purpose!

  4. If any white sportsman said the sort of things Anthony Mundine gets away with, their careers would suddenly hit the skids. The only Aborigional athlete that I don’t like, the way he spoke about Daniel Geale’s wife and children as being ‘too white’ appalled me. Too white for what? Curiously, he belittles white people constantly, then calls US racist. ‘Ostralya’s a waycist country bro, know wot I mean?’

    Many Aboriginal athletes, and people in general are great examples to their young,and the wider population, but when Mundine talks garbage nobody in the Left bats an eyelid, yet are ready to pounce like a vulture from the skies if the racism is white on black.

  5. The g Factor says

    These incidents show the foolishness of anti-racism (or rather reverse racism). Imagine what would happen if a white heterosexual male complained about something as trivial as being called an ape – he would most probably be ignored or even laughed at.

  6. Dennis Robb says

    Well researched and written.

  7. outcast says

    I am waiting for a smart alec advocay/lawyer representing the “primate protection society” to introduce a bill in parliament to prevent species villification. Afterall, some gorilla or chimp might be offended when being linked to a human being. Not that some primates like gorillas aren’t nicer in temperament than the human species.

    If you are a decent human being with your own modicum of self respect, insults should be like water off a ????? (PC proscribed) back.

    Tyranny is the last bastion of the perfect human being!

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