The AFL community has rallied around Indigenous and Carlton star Eddie Betts after he called out racist abuse aimed at him in a vile image on social media.
Players over the weekend 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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But following a weekend of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, Betts has taken to Instagram to call out a fan who posted a ‘disgusting’ image.
Betts called out the AFL fan that had posted a photo of a chimp, which appeared to be in reference to the small forward.
“If at any time anyone is wondering why we work so hard to bring attention to the importance of stamping out racism, this is it,” Betts wrote on Instagram.
“If ever there was a time where our focus on this needs to continue more than ever, it’s now. We each have a responsibility to ourselves and each other.
“To continue to listen. To learn. To educate.
“To ignore it is to be part of the problem, to call it out is to be part of the solution.”
AFL community rallies around Betts
Betts received plenty of support from the AFL, and wider, community following the post on Sunday.
AFLPA boss Paul Marsh slammed the post as ‘abhorrent’.
“First week back and our indigenous players are already being vilified,” he said.
“This post is abhorrent and disgusting and so sad. There’s no place in society for racism.”
Teammates and rivals of Betts’ also jumped into to condemn the post.
Carlton co-captain Sam Docherty said Betts' vilification underlined the need for the AFL and its clubs and players to take a stand.
"We've seen the stance we've taken as a footy club. I think they found out pretty early on Saturday morning and they've acted as they saw fit," Docherty told reporters on Monday.
"We're seeing at the moment there's a lot of this in society and for what criticism the AFL's getting for being political, I think what we're trying to do is just make it right.
"He's one of our teammates, one of our most loved figures at our footy club and to see him vilified like that, it does hurt us.
"Anyone that's asking a question about why we're taking a knee pre-game or why we're trying to make a difference, why we're trying to actually do something about it - this is the exact reason why.
"I can't understand what that does to Eddie, and I never will - and I don't think any of us will, that don't go through that.
"So from a footy club perspective we've just got to wrap our arms around him and being silent hasn't worked for a number of years - so as an industry and as a footy club we've got to stand behind our Indigenous players and make a stand."
Hawthorn players also rallied around the Carlton star.
“We ArEnT RaCiSt In AuStRaLiA,” Hawthorn’s Chad Wingard replied.
“Education is key. This is not good enough! With you brother always. This is weekly and enough is enough.”
Jarman Impey wrote: “With you brother.”
“What the f*** is wrong with people,” Bett’s former Crows teammate, Ben Davis, said. “What’s so hard to get ???”
Carlton teammate Marc Murphy praised Betts and posted: “You’re a star.”
Celebrity chef Adam Liaw responded: “We’ll fight it with you, Eddie. You’re not in this alone.”
While blogger Sophie Cachia said: “F***ing hell. We’re all here for you and the fam.”
Players kneel for Black Lives Matter
This weekend saw players from across the code, including Betts, take a knew to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement.
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.”