• Adam Goodes during the 2015 semi-final between the Sydney Swans and North Melbourne. (AAP)Source: AAP
The highest levels of the AFL have admitted that Adam Goodes was the target of extreme racism during the 2015 season and apologised for not acting earlier to protect him.
By
NITV Staff Writer

18 Mar 2016 - 1:45 AM  UPDATED 18 Mar 2016 - 2:27 AM

In the AFL's 2015 Annual Report, released Thursday, CEO Gillon McLachlans' statement became a public mea culpa in which he apologised to Goodes and said the AFL had failed him.

"By the time Adam retired, he had been subject to a level of crowd booing and behaviour that none of our players should ever face," McLachlan wrote.

"Adam stood up to represent Indigenous people and he took a stand on racism, and for this I believe he was subject to hostility from some in our crowds.

'We should have acted sooner and I am sorry we acted too slowly.'

"As a game, we should have acted sooner and I am sorry we acted too slowly."

In July 2015, McLachlan had said that the AFL could "not tell supporters how to behave", after Adam Goodes took extended leave from the Swans following weeks of incessant booing.

But on Thursday the chief executive wrote that the episode had taught him a lesson about the role that the AFL must play in fighting racism.

"The national conversation about racism taught me how important our role is to partner with all players to fight racism. Adam has led with courage and humility and I look forward to the day our game can properly celebrate the retirement of this great champion."

'Adam is, and will always be, a great champion of the AFL, and for racism to blight his final season is a great shame for our game.'

The AFL's Chairman, Mike Fitzpatrick, also used his report to express regret over the final season of the 2014 Australian of the Year, two-time Sydney Swans premiership player and Brownlow medallist.

"I also want to express the Commission's view on the treatment of Adam Goodes by crowds during the season," Fitzpatrick wrote.

"Adam is, and will always be, a great champion of the AFL, and for racism to blight his final season is a great shame for our game. While we have much to be proud of in fighting racism and working with the Indigenous community, the Commission also acknowledges the journey we are all still on."

What the report said

Extract from the CEO’s Report in the AFL Annual Report 2015:

Four men who have made extraordinary contributions to our game – Michael Malthouse, Dustin Fletcher, Chris Judd and Adam Goodes – were among those whose AFL careers came to an end in 2015.

Unfortunately, we only got the chance to formally farewell three of these great contributors to our game. Adam did not attend the MCG on Grand Final day in the parade of champions and we respected his decision to take time away. By the time Adam retired, he had been subject to a level of crowd booing and behaviour that none of our players should ever face.

The debate that occurred about whether or not the booing was due to racism put further pressure on this great Indigenous leader and one of our game’s great test champions. Adam stood up to represent Indigenous people and he took a stand on racism, and for this I believe he was subject to hostility from some in our crowds. As a game, we should have acted sooner and I am sorry we acted too slowly. I am proud of the way the community, players from every club and supporters of the Sydney Swans made their support for Adam so public during his time away from the game, and on his return to play against Geelong.

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COMMENT | I am perplexed that it took so many months and the trashing of a career before the AFL said "sorry" that it didn't act sooner on the booing of Adam Goodes.