Football’s Racist Rows

Over the weekend newspapers raged about racism in sport from AFL’s Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico to rugby league’s Andrew Johns.

While statements about Aboriginal players have been seized by the press, there have been similar remarks about other races and the Australian’s Emma Tom pointed out the sexist nature of one slur.

The responses from both codes have been quick if limited. DiPierdomenico has been suspended as Auskick Ambassador with AFL Chief Executive Andrew Demetriou commenting that DiPierdomenico’s statement was “stupid, ignorant and totally unacceptable”. While Demetriou called for players to “Start getting into the 21st century [and] conduct yourselves as normal human beings in a country that prides itself in welcoming people.”

The NRL was quick to remove Johns as assistant coach for the State of Origin but announced today that the disgraced player would be “invited to help promote anti-racism campaigns”. NSWRL general manager Geoff Carr believes “We have to move forward and it is important that Timana and Joey get together.”

Even actor and part owner of the South Sydney rugby league club, Russell Crowe has weighed into the debate. Crowe told the Perth Sunday Times he was proud of his club’s record on racism: “Apart from Aboriginal players we also have Maori, Samoan, Tongan, English [and] our football club chairman is Greek. At South Sydney we don’t care where you come from, we care about who you are.”

On Wednesday night the Wheeler Centre hosts Ethically Speaking: Sport, a forum on our athletes and their morality.

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