• Indigenous footballers from Port Noarlunga Football Club were racially abused by opposition fans for entire game over the weekend. (Getty Images AsiaPac)Source: Getty Images AsiaPac
A game of football in South Australia's Southern Football League was brought to a standstill in its final quarter on the weekend by fans hurling racist insults at Aboriginal players on the opposing team.
By
Douglas Smith

Source:
NITV NEWS
4 Aug 2020 - 12:10 PM  UPDATED 4 Aug 2020 - 12:10 PM

Officials stepped in to halt a game of Australian Rules football in South Australia on the weekend due to the level of racial vilification aimed at Aboriginal players on the visiting team.

A group of about “ten or more” Flagstaff Hill Football Club supporters allegedly yelled racist insults at Indigenous players from the visiting Port Noarlunga Football Club from the opening bounce, calling them "black c**ts" and "stinky".

The sustained abuse forced the young players from the field and eventually resulted in game officials halting play in an attempt to stop any further racist remarks being made. 

The incident was brought to light when proud Wirangu and Kokatha man, Ian Milera, posted to social media after the game, saying it was "one of the worst days" he had experienced in his football career.

On Monday, Mr Milera told NITV News that he was “shocked” by the racist display from a group of about “ten or more” people.

“I heard them say black c**ts but I just tried to stop listening,” said Mr Milera. 

“I think the Gubbi (alcohol) must have kicked in or something because they were all singing out racist sh*t.

“I was pretty upset, obviously, and there was like five or six of us Nunga fullas (SA Aboriginal people) playing….three of us just went and sat on the bench and just sat there until the game finished.

“It just ruined it for me.”

 

A former SANFL under-18's premiership player for the Glenelg Tigers, Mr Milera recently signed with Port Noarlunga and has been one of the clubs best pick-ups of the year, alongside fellow Indigenous teammate, Elijah Satala, who was also playing in Saturday's game.

In a formal incident report made by Mr Satala to the Southern Football League, he said he could hear racist remarks from Flagstaff Hill fans every time an Aboriginal player got the ball. During the game, Mr Satala's brother, who was a spectator in the crowd, informed him it had been happening throughout play.

"I immediately brought it to the attention of other players on my team who responded by saying that they had been hearing these same remarks all game, but had thought they may have been saying ‘sticky’.

"But as soon as I said ‘no, they’re saying stinky’ the other players agreed and said that ‘stinky’ was definitely the word being yelled at the Indigenous players the whole game.

"My brother who was a spectator near the score board confirmed this with me, saying, 'Elijah, they’ve been yelling it all game’." 

In the report, Mr Satala said the racial abuse directed at players on the field turned into threats of violence against his family who were spectating, which included his grandmother who is 70-years-old. The threats resulted in an escalating confrontation with Flagstaff Hill supporters. 

"A male supporter that was early abusing my brother jumped the fence and physically confronted my brother, threatening him with violence," he wrote. 

"In which my Aboriginal 70-year-old grandmother had to get out the car and stand up for her grandson.

"A number of other male FHFC supporters came over threatening my brother, saying if he didn’t leave there would be trouble."

Flagstaff Hill FC respond

Following the game, Mr Milera said the Flagstaff Hill coach came into the change rooms and apologised to the players, but said he "couldn't control the fans." 

In a statement to NITV News, the president of the Flagstaff Hill Football Club, Neil Williams, said the club did not condone "racism or vilification in any form" and that it was taking the matter "very seriously."

"The Flagstaff Hill Football Club acknowledges the harm and subsequent hurt that was caused by the incident at Saturday’s football match against Port Noarlunga Football Club, and as such have launched an independent internal investigation into the incident," said the statement. 

"While the Flagstaff Hill Football Club rejects racism, racial slurs and racial injustice, we understand that there is always more work to be done to stand up against discrimination both on and off the field."

However, Mr Satala said the response from Mr Williams during the incident "failed to ensure myself or family were okay, instead making us feel like we were the problem."

Mr Satala said Mr Williams approached him and his family after the game and attempted to intimidate them "instead of listening and understanding."

"The President didn’t acknowledge or apologise for the racial abuse instead distancing himself and saying those supporters are not part of the club," he wrote. 

This heightened me and instead of this president stopping and listening to what happened he could only respond by saying; ‘if you have an issue then put it an email to me’.

"What I found more disturbing was in the fourth quarter, FHFC runner came out to, I believe, the captain and stated 'we are going to lose our liquor licence'."

Mr Satala said it showed that Flagstaff Hill Football Club "were more worried about being able to buy a beer rather than addressing the Racial Slurs being chanted."

In the incident report to the league, the players called for the resignation of Mr Williams from the presidency of the Flagstaff Hill Football Club, as well as the cancellation of the club's liquor licence.   

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