Brisbane Lion Callum Ah Chee has called out online racial abuse in the wake of Carlton’s successful appeal of skipper Patrick Cripps’ two-week suspension and the club has referred it to the AFL Integrity Unit.
Cripps was cleared by the AFL appeals board on Thursday night, having been given a two-week ban for a big hit on Ah Chee in last week’s clash at the Gabba.
The AFL on Friday confirmed it would not appeal that decision and Cripps was free to play against Melbourne this weekend.
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But amid the fallout, Ah Chee, who was injured in the incident and will miss Brisbane’s match with St Kilda due to the AFL’s concussion protocols, was the target of racial abuse that he spoke out against on his personal Instagram account.
“Not something you want to wake up to in the morning,” I posted.
“How can this still keep happening. Why can’t my brothers and I just play the game we love without having to worry about s**t like this… If my son grows up playing the game – I hope he doesn’t have to deal with this hate.
“It hurts and I’m sick to death of seeing it.”
The Lions also condemned the comments calling the behavior “disgusting” and reported it to the AFL Integrity Unit.
“The Brisbane Lions celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the incredible contribution Indigenous players have made to our club and to our great game,” a clubs statement said.
“It’s disappointing to have to do so, but in moments like this we take the approach as a footy club to urge people to educate themselves about the harmful impacts of racially motivated comments and online abuse.
“At the Lions we are a family and when one hurts, we all hurt.
“If you know anyone who behaves in this way, call it out as completely unacceptable.”
Ah Chee was supported by Brisbane teammate Mitch Robinson, who said the abuse was “as weak as it ever gets”.
“Sick of having to see our Indigenous and multicultural players subject to racism over and over again,” he posted on Twitter.
“If you see it, even if you might know these uneducated trolls on social media keep calling it out and report them.”
The AFL confirmed it would not appeal against Cripps’ ban being overturned, noting the case “involved complexities”, but the reasons for the decision would be closely reviewed.
“The AFL acknowledges and accepts the decision of the AFL appeals board in overturning the tribunal’s decision to suspend Patrick Cripps from the Carlton Football Club,” a league statement said.
“As the appeal board chairman commented last night, the case involved complexities and the AFL will closely review the appeal board’s detailed reasons for the decision that will be received in due course.
“That said, the health and safety of our players at an elite and community level is of paramount importance and that priority will continue to inform the AFL’s ongoing work in taking action where health and safety is impacted or at risk.”