The captains of all 18 AFL clubs have made an unprecedented plea to football fans to stop booing Sydney champion Adam Goodes.
As debate raged across the country on Thursday about the motivation behind the booing of Goodes, the AFL Players’ Association and the skippers gave a strong show of solidarity by releasing an open statement to the Australian football public.
Speaking on behalf of more than 800 players, the captains expressed their distaste for the constant booing of Goodes this year, which has seen him take a leave of absence from the Swans.
All captains – with Dyson Heppell standing in for injured Essendon skipper Jobe Watson – approved the move.
AFL Players’ chief executive Paul Marsh said he had been approached by a significant number of players who wanted to send a united message to fans.
“The players, as a collective, feel very strongly about this issue; we have got one of our brothers who is doing it very tough at the moment,” Marsh said.
“The key message for us … is that we just want the booing to stop. Beyond that, it is about respect for all players, not just Adam. We obviously love the fans, but we want them to respect what we are doing.”
THE PLEA FROM THE CAPTAINS OF ALL 18 AFL CLUBS
“As captains, teammates, and supporters of the game, we know how motivating the cheer and roar of a crowd can be. We also know how demoralising and offensive booing and jeering is.
As leaders we are accountable for everything we do on and off the field, and we think it’s just as important for us to be accountable and call out unacceptable behaviour when we see it. And sadly this week we have all seen it.
The celebration and passion shown by fans and players alike is what makes this game great. Footy is made up of people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Let’s celebrate this diversity and keep our great game free of all prejudice for all to enjoy.
“Enjoy the game, celebrate the success. But don’t boo, jeer or taunt players because of who they are or what they stand for.” – afl captains
We call on all supporters, from all clubs, and industry leaders to join us as we make a stand against vilification.
Enough is enough. Enjoy the game, celebrate the success. But don’t boo, jeer or taunt players because of who they are or what they stand for.
We’re all human. We’re all in this together. And together we can make a difference.
We encourage supporters to demonstrate zero tolerance and report any behaviour which vilifies a person on the basis of their personal characteristics, such as race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. We would encourage every other fan to follow suit.
When a fan buys a ticket to the football, they don’t buy the rights to have their respect and decent behaviour left at the gate.
When you come to the footy, join us in putting a stop to offensive behaviour. Be the voice that makes a positive impact.
Stand with us to ensure our game remains great for everyone.”