MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian Football League (AFL) club Richmond Tigers have handed a two-year ban to a supporter who made racially abusive comments about a West Coast Eagles player on social media.
Forward Liam Ryan was called a “monkey” by multiple social media users on a broadcaster’s Instagram account after the 22-year-old Aboriginal player was involved in a clash with another player during a match over the weekend.
An AFL investigation revealed a Richmond member had made racist abuse against Ryan, and the Melbourne-based club moved quickly to ban him until March 2021, the league said on Tuesday.
“Racial vilification has no place in our game, and no place in our society, and the club will continue to take strong measures to ensure there is zero tolerance to this behaviour,” the club said in a statement.
The abuse of Ryan triggered a chorus of condemnation from the Australian Rules football community on Monday, with West Coast boss Trevor Nisbett demanding that “hateful, keyboard cowards” be held to account.
AFL executive Tanya Hosch said the league had noted what appeared to be “an increasing number of racist posts appearing on the players’, and broader, online platforms.”
“The AFL took action regarding on-field racism over 20 years ago, we take action at our stadiums and grounds, but we are now facing vicious commentary appearing on players own accounts, and industry platforms,” Hosch said.
“However, we also know that social media platforms invite commentary and feedback, and the anonymous nature of the commentary allows for the worst aspects of the community to get a voice.”
The AFL has worked hard to stamp out racism on the field and in the terraces, but Aboriginal players regularly complain of racist abuse from the terraces and posted online.
The Ryan controversy flared only days after Carlton AFL women’s player Tayla Harris complained of “sexual abuse” from social media users after local broadcaster Channel 7 posted a photograph of her kicking a goal online.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)