Collingwood fan banned after racial slur during grand final


“The decision was made that that person’s membership was suspended. Their cheer squad and membership were both suspended for 12 months,” said Collingwood Indigenous programs manager Deb Lovett on 7.30.

“The ultimate aim would be to educate her before she comes back to the club, if she comes back to the club.”

Wednesday’s revelations were the first time the grand final incident was made public, yet Mr Rielly said the club “did not make a decision not to disclose it, we were happy for it to come out on the 7.30 Report”.

Mr Rielly said that, unlike when Gold Coast player Joel Wilkinson’s post-match complaint against racial abuse directed towards him led to a Collingwood fan’s 20-year membership being terminated in 2012, the West Coast player in question did not hear the remarks at the time.

The member’s 12-month ban is a minimum period, according to Mr Rielly, dependent on her successfully completing an education program and showing a desire to improve her behaviour.

“An offer is kept open for that person to return to the club, provided they undertake education,” he said.

“The person often sits down with the person they may have offended, to get an understanding of what it was and why it hurt.

“And if they’re prepared to give the club an undertaking that they understand and it won’t happen again, then there’s consideration whether they can become a member again.”

Mr Rielly confirmed the ban applied only to the fan’s Collingwood membership, and the club was powerless to stop her purchasing a general admission ticket to future AFL games.

Last month, Richmond suspended a fan’s membership for two years for racially vilifying West Coast Eagles forward Liam Ryan on social media.

In 2012, Wilkinson, the then-20-year-old Suns player of Nigerian descent, lodged a complaint after Collingwood player Dale Thomas pointed out a Magpies fan’s racial abuse near the cheer squad at the MCG.

That fan was similarly implored to undertake a racial vilification re-education program.

Prominent Collingwood cheer squad member Joffa Corfe said on Thursday that the grand final incident was “news to me”.

“In all my time in the Collingwood cheer squad, which is getting on to a long while, I’ve never heard any racism, nothing at all,” he said.

“I’d be the first one to stand up and do something about it, and to hear that a cheer squad member was racist is really disappointing.”.

Indigenous player Varcoe, formerly of Geelong, revealed in Wednesday night’s ABC broadcast that he recently received petrol sniffing taunts on Facebook.

“There comes a time when enough is enough, and we’ve got to come together and act as one, because we want this stamped out. Not only in sport, but in society in general,” he said.

Other AFL players including Eddie Betts – who had a banana thrown at him in 2016 and Majak Daw have been the subject of racial taunts in recent years.

Michael is a reporter for The Age.

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