Radio host reignites Aussie rules racism row

 

Sydney

In 1993, an Aboriginal Australian rules footballer, Nicky Winmar, lifted his jersey and pointed proudly at his black skin, in defiance of a spectator who was racially abusing him - an action captured in a photograph that seemed to mark a watershed in Australia's tolerance of racism.

Twenty years on, it seems little has changed. During a match last weekend, Adam Goodes, an Aboriginal player with the Australian rules team Sydney Swans, stood outraged on the pitch after a 13-year-old girl, a Collingwood supporter, called him an “ape”. The girl was ejected, and Collingwood's president, Eddie McGuire, apologised profusely, saying he was “devastated” that Goodes had been targeted. The club had organised “counselling services” for the girl, he added.

Today Mr McGuire - one of Australia's most colourful sports and media personalities - demonstrated that he, too, is in need of re-education. Presenting his regular breakfast programme on Triple M, a national pop and chat station, he astonished listeners by suggesting that Goodes could help promote the new King Kong musical, which is about to open in Melbourne. “You know, with the ape thing, the whole thing,” he told his co-host, Luke Darcy.

Once again, Mr McGuire was forced to apologise, even offering to step down from his role at Collingwood, a club that he said last week had zero tolerance of racism. “Let's not kid ourselves,” he said then. “Australia was a racist country for a long time.”

Some think it still is. Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission was forced to close down the comments link to a YouTube video entitled “Racism - It stops with me” and featuring Goodes and other sports stars, after it was attacked by “white supremacists and trolls”, according to The Australian newspaper.

Goodes, meanwhile, has behaved with dignity. At a press conference after last Friday's match, he said he was “shattered” by the incident, but defended the girl, who has not been named. “It's not her fault,” he said. “Unfortunately it's what she hears, it's the environment she's grown up in that makes her think it's OK to call people names.”

The girl has since apologised, saying she did not realise “ape” was a racist slur. Although she lives in Melbourne, the premier of New South Wales, Barry O'Farrell, has ordered the Education Department to re-circulate anti-racism material in schools.

The Australian Football League, which governs the sport, ordered Mr McGuire to attend “tolerance classes”, warning him he would be fined up to A$20,000 (£12,746) if he failed to comply. He blamed a “brain fade” for his comments, but added: “There's no excuse. I put my foot in it and I stand here today to say I did the wrong thing.”

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?