The AFL's desperation to banish racism from the game is being hampered by lingering dissident fans, with Essendon and Western Bulldogs confirming a supporter of each had made racist taunts within the space of a week.
Essendon has expelled a member for taunting Sydney champion Adam Goodes, a previous target of racism, at the weekend, while the Bulldogs are appealing to supporters to help identify one of their supporters who abused Melbourne's Neville Jetta on the preceding weekend.
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Goodes and Jetta racially abused
Essendon and Western Bulldogs have urged their supporters to "stand up against racism", after a supporter from each club made racist taunts during games against Sydney and Melbourne.
Both Goodes and Jetta are indigenous.
The Bombers announced on Tuesday they had cancelled the membership of one of their supporters who was, after an "extensive investigation", found to have abused Goodes during Friday night's match at Etihad Stadium.
Club chief operating officer Xavier Campbell said its response reflected its principle that "racial vilification is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated".
"As a club, we do not accept appalling behaviour of this nature. No matter your race, religion or gender, football is a game of inclusion," he said in a statement. "It is extremely disappointing incidents of this nature are still occurring."
Essendon said it was appreciative that other club members had reported the abuse, which immediately resulted in the offender's ejection from the venue by police and has culminated in his expulsion.
Campbell said the offender had "expressed his deep remorse for the incident and accepted full responsibility for his actions".
"His membership has been terminated and his reapplication for membership will only be considered after he has undertaken a racial vilification education program," he said.
Goodes, the reigning Australian of the Year, was oblivious to the abuse until he was later contacted about it by the Bombers, who apologised to him and have since made a public apology for the incident.
Swans CEO Andrew Ireland commended Essendon on its swift action.
“Racial vilification simply has no place in our game, or the broader community,” Ireland said via a club statement on Tuesday.
The incident came a week short of a year since Goodes was infamously abused by a teenage supporter at the MCG when the Swans were hosted by Collingwood.
Soon after the Bombers' announcement the Bulldogs requested support in identifying a supporter wearing a Bulldogs jumper who had vilified Jetta in the Saturday night match at the MCG in round eight.
Bulldogs president Peter Gordon said the abuse had been reported by nearby patrons but had not culminated in collection of the alleged offender's details and their eviction like it should have.
Gordon said his request for public help had come after Melbourne Cricket Club attempts to identify the offender using security footage from the match were unsuccessful.
The president apologised "unreservedly" to Jetta on behalf of the club, and it was "ashamed" by the apparent supporter who had taunted the Melbourne player.
"We have no tolerance for ignorant racial abuse and we will continue to make efforts to identify this person and to deal with him under our supporters' code of conduct," Gordon said.
"It has been the club's initiative to make this matter public and to acknowledge the wrongdoing of one of our own supporters. When racist abuse rears its ugly head we will never as a club do what this person has done: disappear into anonymity.
"It happened. One of our own supporters did it. We are all diminished as a consequence. But we will not let it pass. Even though we need every supporter we can get, we don't need supporters who behave like this."
Gordon said the fact racist abuse was "ignorant, cruel, unfair and unlawful, ought to be enough to see it consigned to history".
"As president, I call on all Bulldog supporters to be vigilant and to stand up against racism at all Bulldogs games and whatever circumstances it may arise in," he said. "If you can assist our inquiries as to what happened at the game please let us know."
Melbourne issued a press release in which Jetta expressed his hurt at what had transpired.
“I am disappointed for my family and friends to be subjected to these types of remarks and it’s completely unacceptable that these sorts of comments still exist in our society today,” Jetta said.
“I was upset that my family and friends were subjected to this type of behaviour and that it still exists within the AFL, as they (the AFL) have done a terrific job in educating society that racial vilification is unacceptable. This is an opportunity to educate society and just because I didn’t hear the remark first hand, this doesn’t mean that it is any less offensive or hurtful."
Jetta, who was recently updgraded from the Demons' rookie list, thanked the Western Bulldogs for the way in which it dealt with the situation, and hoped that the unsavoury incident could be used to educate the community about the pain that racial abused can inflict.
- with Daniel Cherny