THE story that emerged yesterday began with news of an unnamed recruiter admitting to the AFL that “his club would baulk at picking up an Aboriginal footballer unless he had at least one white parent.”
That admission caught fire in the media and by the end of the day Adelaide Crows recruiter Matt Rendell had resigned from his post with the club.
At first the identity of Rendell was kept hidden from the general public but the condemnation over the comments was universal, none moreso than those from GWS Giants coach Kevin Sheedy who warned any recruiter with racist ideas that they will be hunted down and banished from the game.
The incident occurred when Rendell met with AFL Community Engagement Manager, Jason Mifsud. In an update posted to the Crows’ website Rendell has disputed the interpretation of his comments saying “I believe the comments in a meeting with Jason were taken out of context.”
And while Rendell has defended his track record of recruiting indigenous players he has also conceded that “knowing the implication of such reports, I’ve decided to stand down. To stay would attach those comments to the Club, which is not the case either.”
The AFL has worked hard over the years to banish the blight of racism from the sport and introduced Rule 30 under the Player Rules, covering Racial and Religious Vilification, in 1995 after then-Essendon player Michael Long spoke out against racism on-field within the game.
That rule was a milestone act by the league but it has not been enough by itself to end behaviours or challenge the stereotype of indigenous footballers. It was merely a start and last night’s backlash against Rendell’s comments merely the latest step in ensuring that outdated attitudes are banished from the sport.
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