Sydney Swans great Lance Franklin has made a rare public statement in support of teammate Elijah Taylor, who has copped a barrage of racist abuse in the wake of his coronavirus suspension.
Taylor was suspended for the rest of the season and sent home from the AFL’s Western Australia hub after he was sprung trying to sneak his girlfriend into the team hotel.
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The 19-year-old lived with Franklin when he first moved to Sydney from WA, and while the former premiership star was still brutally honest about Taylor’s actions, he refused to stand by while his teammate was being racially abused.
“Like everyone at the club I’m incredibly disappointed in Elijah’s selfish actions, they were unacceptable and I understand everyone’s anger,” Franklin told the Daily Telegraph.
“But the racist comments directed at him are unacceptable. There is and never will be an excuse for racism.
“This week is really special for Indigenous players with Indigenous Round – it’s about celebrating culture.
“As a society we need to call out racism and make it clear that we will not tolerate it, and we will not be silent on it.”
Taylor will have to wait until next season to add to the four AFL games he played in his rookie season, with the Swans looking likely to miss out on a spot in the top eight this season.
Sydney’s Elijah Taylor cops racist abuse
The Swans were also fined $50,000 for Taylor’s breach of COVID-19 rules, with $25,000 suspended and $25,000 included in their 2021 soft cap.
But on Tuesday night the saga took a disgusting twist as Taylor revealed the racist abuse he’s been receiving as a result.
The 19-year-old posted an Instagram screenshot of a racist message he’d received where he was called a “monkey”, among other derogatory terms.
“Honestly I'm extremely sorry for being selfish with my actions. I know what I've done not only affected me and the players but many others that all love the game,” Taylor wrote on Instagram.
“I understand that a lot of people are angry but racism really doesn't fix anything.”
The Swans shared Taylor’s message and condemned the racist abuse via their social media channels.
“Elijah made a bad decision and he now has to deal with the consequences,” the club posted on Twitter.
“He should not be the subject of abuse. There is NO place for racism.
“This week is about celebrating the Indigenous players in our game. It shouldn't be about this.
“Enough is enough. It must stop.”