The AFL’s failure to support Indigenous great Adam Goodes during the 2015 booing of the Sydney Swans champion was a “stain” for the sport, the league’s chairman Richard Goyder has said.
Goodes, who played a team record 372 games for the Swans, was booed by stadium crowds throughout his final season in one of the country’s darkest sporting sagas.
The AFL apologised to Goodes in 2019 but the former Australian of the Year remains estranged from the league and declined induction to the sport’s Hall of Fame.
“The conclusion to his AFL career with the Sydney Swans was an incredibly difficult period that caused great hurt for Adam and the subsequent time it took for the game to recognise and apologise for this hurt also had a very significant impact,” Goyder said at the Hall of Fame’s awards ceremony.
“Our failure to stand with him at the time it was happening and call out what was happening was a stain for our game.
“The unreserved apology that the game provided him in 2019 was too late, but, on behalf of our Commission and the AFL, I apologise unreservedly again for our failures during this period.
“Failure to call out racism and not standing up for Adam let down all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, past and present.”
Goodes won two championships with the Swans and two Brownlow medals as the league’s best and fairest player in 2003 and 2006.
He used his Australian of the Year title to push for Indigenous rights but his views upset conservatives and right-wing pundits who branded him divisive.
The vitriol spilled over stadium fences in his final season, with crowds booing his every touch of the ball.