The AFL has watered down suggestions the code is inherently racist after yet another on-field allegation.
Disgraced Western Bulldogs AFL player Justin Sherman will spend four weeks in the Victorian Football League after admitting to racially abusing an indigenous Gold Coast Suns player Joel Wilkinson last weekend – the pair apparently resolved their differences at a reconciliation meeting yesterday.
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou denied racial tensions within the code, adding the footballer had apologised and would now learn his lesson in reserve grade.
“Whatever the crime, the greatest punishment you can level on a player is dropping him to second grade,” Demetriou said.
“We don’t have a problem in the AFL with racism – I can tell you that much.”
But some footballing experts are already questioning whether dropping Sherman to the VFL will help the embattled star deal with his opportunistic racism.
“The amount of racism, sexual taunts and derogatory rubbish that gets yelled out at a VFL game is ten times worse than in the AFL, where, for the most part, the environment is controlled and the presence of cameras and microphones keep the players in check,” said anti discrimination advocate Peter Marshall.
“I predict Sherman will come back to the AFL in four weeks time with a plethora of offensive insults that you only get at grassroots level.
A Melbourne Demons player of indigenous heritage told ThePublicApology that when it came to racial insults, he’d “heard them all”, but expressed hope that Sherman could bring something new to the table in four weeks time.
“A stint in the ressies [reserve grade] will give him a good chance to work on his material,” the player said.
“I’m sick of the generic “black c***” insult because it’s just not creative enough. I hear it every week and I think the white blokes could come up with something better by now; they’ve been oppressing us [indigenous people] for years and they’ve had ample time to think up some better taunts.”
“There’s some blokes in the reserves that are coming up with some good stuff at the moment, and I’ll be interested to hear some of it later in the year.”
Sherman told ThePublicApology he’d “keep an ear out for some good ones” at VFL training over the next month.
By Dave Edwards