'Absolute joke': Uproar over 'disgusting' response to AFL protests

AFL players, pictured here taking a knee to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Players take a knee to support the Black Lives Matter movement before Collingwood's clash with Richmond. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Aussie basketballer Cody Ellis has slammed the ‘disgusting’ online response to the AFL’s Black Lives Matter protests.

Players have joined forces in taking a knee before the start of matches between Richmond and Collingwood, and Hawthorn and Geelong, in a show of solidarity for the fight against racism.

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While most of the general public have praised the actions of the players, it seems not everyone is congratulating them.

Ellis took to social media on Thursday night to slam some of the ‘absolutely disgusting’ responses to the gesture that he saw online.

“Just had a quick search and scroll for AFL kneel.....absolutely disgusting what some of the Australian public are saying,” he tweeted.

“It's an absolute joke how we single out the US as being full of racists, when we are just as bad. Do better.

”Also, the amount of ‘you're an athlete, Stick to entertaining and out of politics’ tweets was crazy. Wake up....”

The players issued a statement about why they decided to kneel.

“The players want us to understand why they have chosen to do this, tonight’s gesture is one of support, unity and respect driven by the playing group,” the statement read.

“We stand in solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters for all people of colour. There is no place for racism.

“The knee is an expression of that support, we see strength in diversity, it makes us better as a football club and as a community.

“We will be there for each other always, especially at a time when many are impacted by what is going on around the world. We will continue to learn and walk this journey together.”

Mark Blicavs and Chad Wingard take a knee before Geelong's clash with Hawthorn. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Mark Blicavs and Chad Wingard take a knee before Geelong's clash with Hawthorn. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Sam Newman says players ‘intimidated’

Among those not particularly happy with the gesture was Sam Newman, who felt the players had been ‘intimidated’ into kneeling.

“How long before we stop being intimidated into nodding in agreement and question the REAL motives. The game may be incidental,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Division, conflict, fury, rage, angst, anarchy, disruption, group guilt, group shaming, acquiescence.

“Don’t include EVERYONE in the mob mentality, please. AFL is sport!!

“Before the AFL morph themselves completely into a political body, research some FACTS. McLachlan has turned himself into the Goodell of the NFL.

“If you’re going to kneel, know WHY you’re kneeling. Stop the preening. It’s bulls***.”

It is expected every club in the league will display similar shows of unity during the weekend's remaining games.

“Certainly both our clubs are endorsing and supportive of our players doing that and they'll do that just before the bounce. We strongly support them doing so,” Magpies chief executive Mark Anderson told ABC Radio.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said “racism needs to be stamped out”.

“It is an important issue for our players, for our clubs and for the AFL,” he told Sunrise.

A number of other AFL clubs, including Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, Melbourne and Brisbane, have already posted photos and messages on social media in support of the worldwide movement.

with AAP