AFL: Aboriginal football players call for end to racial abuse

    Eddie Betts runs with the ball during a match between the Adelaide Crows and the Essendon Bombers

    Story highlights

    • Players write open letter to AFL fans
    • Two players were racially abused Saturday
    • "Racial vilification has been part of our game for too long."

    (CNN)"How long must we put up with this?"

    That is the opening question a group of Aboriginal players from Australian rules football's AFL have asked fans in an open letter calling for the end of racial abuse.
      Two players -- Paddy Ryder and Eddie Betts -- were racially abused during a match at Adelaide Oval Saturday and the AFL's players' indigenous advisory board has reacted with a powerful statement.


      In the letter, signed by chair Shaun Burgoyne and seven other players, the board says it has "had enough."
      "Racial vilification has been a part of our game for too long," the letter reads.
      "These are more than just words and the impact these slurs have on the player, their family, their children and their community is profound.
      "Despite the amazing work done in the community by our brothers and sisters, they continue to experience this disgraceful treatment.
      "We want football fans to barrack for their club with passion, but shouting abuse at an opposition player and targeting their race needs to stop."
      Last year a Port Adelaide member was banned after she was filmed throwing a banana at Adelaide Crows' Betts.
      Paddy Ryder of the Power and Sam Naismith of the Swans compete for the ball during the round one AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Port Adelaide Power

      'It's bigger than sport'

      In a statement issued on April 11, Port Adelaide confirmed Ryder was subject to racial abuse and that a club member had been suspended indefinitely.
      Port Adelaide was waiting on a full report from the stadium and South Australia Police before taking further action.
      The club also said it was continuing to investigate allegations that a Power supporter had racially abused 30-year-old Betts.
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      AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan told reporters there were "still isolated instances" of racism.
      "We are going to keep tackling them, we are going to keep calling them out and we are going to keep working with our supporters and our fans. We will deal with this issue in absolute terms," he said.
      Speaking to, Adelaide forward Chad Wingard said it was time for Australians to "stand up" against racism.
      "The sad thing is, this has happened to the majority of indigenous players throughout their careers," he said.
      "It's bigger than sport. We've got to be there for each other as a community and as Australians. We're in this together. It doesn't matter where you are from. We're a culture that is very diverse and we have to make sure we are accepted and that's not going to bind us who we are."