Christian Petracca says Indigenous players ‘put more bums on seats than anyone else’ in the AFL as he lashes out at ‘disgusting’ racist abuse against the game’s First Nations stars
- Petracca spoke out against Ugle-Hagan abuse
- Incident occurred during Bulldogs v Saints match
- Said Indigenous players brought fun to the AFL
Melbourne Demons star Christian Petracca has slammed the alleged racial vilification of Dogs star Jamarra Ugle-Hagan while saying Indigenous players have proved themselves to be the sport’s biggest attraction by bringing ‘fun’ to the AFL.
Petracca was speaking on KIIS 101.1’s Jase & Lauren on Monday when the topic turned to the latest racial incident in the AFL that occurred during the match between the Saints and the Bulldogs.
St Kilda’s 51-point against-the-odds win was soured by the comments a member of the crowd allegedly aimed at 20-year-old Indigenous star Ugle-Hagan.
Young Melbourne forward Kysaiah ‘Kozzy’ Pickett has been repeatedly targeted by racist fans and Petracca was gutted that another young First Nations player had been attacked.
He said the flashy, talented Indigenous stars were the cornerstone of the AFL’s success and slammed the members of the crowd that were abusing them.
‘My thoughts [on the abuse hurled at Jamarra] are it is just disgusting. I don’t really get it to be honest, it is just fundamentally so wrong,’ he said.
Petracca (pictured taking selfies with AFL fans during the club’s match against Port Adelaide in Alice Springs) is ‘disgusted’ with the abuse levelled at Indigenous footballers
Ugle-Hagan (pictured modelling the Bulldogs Indigenous Guernsey during the 2022 Sir Doug Nicholls Round launch) was allegedly on the end of racist abuse on the weekend
‘He is a 20-year-old kid. We are not just footballers; we are human beings. Yes, we play the games, but especially indigenous players, they bring so much fun and enjoyment to the games, They put more bums on the seats than anyone else do.
‘You go to games to watch indigenous players – Eddie Betts, Kozzy Pickett, Jamarra, like these types of players.’
Petracca said the abuse also goes on behind closed doors and many Indigenous players were to afraid to speak out against vile slurs levelled at them on social media.
‘I lived with Kozzy Pickett and Toby Bedford, who are two Indigenous players, two Indigenous human beings and the stuff behind the scenes that you don’t see on social media or Instagram or direct messages is worse and they wouldn’t even speak out because they don’t want to cause a scene.’
Petracca was also disappointed because the racial vilification is not just a football issue, but an issue with wider society.
‘To be racially vilified, it just really annoys me,’ he said.
Petracca’s teammate Kysaiah Pickett has been the victim of racial abuse as well
Former AFL champion Eddie Betts has spoken out about the racism he has experienced during his stellar career
‘As a society, we take one step forward with this stuff and we say we are getting better and you see things like this and it’s another, four-five steps backwards. It really is so wrong.’
Both St Kilda and the Bulldogs have released statements condemning the fan’s actions.
The AFL is currently investigating and the culprit[s] face a life ban from attending future matches.
‘Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is a young 20-year-old player trying to forge a career as an AFL footballer. An impressive young man in which part of his pride and strength comes from his family. We stand with his family in calling out the racist comments, comments that cause significant hurt and harm for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,’ the AFL said in a statement.