• Carlton star Eddie Betts says he's drained after enduring a lifetime of racism. (Screenshot: AFL 360)Source: Screenshot: AFL 360
The Carlton legend, who has endured a lifetime of racism, poured his heart out after the latest incident, saying it was 'tough' to watch his former teammate's apology video.
Douglas Smith, Jodan Perry

10 Aug 2021 - 10:38 PM  UPDATED 13 Aug 2021 - 11:51 AM

Eddie Betts has called for all Australians to stand against racism in a powerful and emotional statement in response to the scandal surrounding his former teammate Taylor Walker. 

The Wirangu and Kokatha man appeared on Fox Footy on Tuesday night, saying he was drained after the latest in a long line of racial attacks against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"I've been dealing with this (racism) my whole life, my mother has, my father has and it's tiring... it hurts and it's draining," he said.

“It just keeps happening, I’m sick of it."

Betts has been a constant target of putrid racial abuse throughout his career, revealing that in the past two weeks he has been subjected to attacks.

He said while he is sick of fighting against racists, he will continue to do so for his people, but he put the onus on the whole country to walk with him.

“You hear me speak about it year after year after year and nothing is going to change, so it’s up to you guys to make change," he said.

“Start those conversations at home, start it with your friends, your family, call out racism when you see it because there’s no room for racism in Australia.”

His comments come a day after former teammate Taylor Walker and the Adelaide Crows released an apology video, that followed a six-match suspension for the forward for directing a slur at former St Kilda player Robbie Young in a reserves match last month.

In the video, Walker first struggles for words before he receives a pat on the shoulder by Young. He goes on to apologise to Young, his family, the Adelaide official who reported his slur and his family, and also all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Walker finishes by saying "I'm going lean on you Robbie, I'm going to lean on the AFL and others around me to support me." The pair then shake hands.

Betts admitted it was "tough" to watch the video and he has been in contact with his former teammate.

"Taylor has called me, but that’s our conversation to have," he said,

"Taylor’s on a journey and, you know, I know Taylor and he’ll go on this journey 100 per cent and he’ll educate himself and he’ll educate people around him."

'It is always on Indigenous people'

Former AFL player turned ABC and NITV presenter Tony Armstrong also spoke out after seeing the video.

“I’ve said this before, it is always on Indigenous people, to always take the high road and always having to extend the olive branch out and be the ones to help and to educate," he said on News Breakfast.

"Even then in the wording we heard, Taylor will be the one leaning on Robbie.

“It’s really really frustrating and I’ve got a relationship with Tex… we played junior football together, we played state football together… and I’ve started re-thinking so many situations.”

Armstrong said it has made him think more about racism within the AFL. 

“I’m lucky enough to be friends with a lot of the Indigenous cohort, and our text message threads are absolutely hopping off with support for each other,” he said. 

“We’re not saying this is just a Taylor Walker and an Adelaide Crows thing, it just makes us think that this is rife.

“If this is the one that was caught, you think about all the ones that happen when you’re not there.”

AFL 'disappointed' by the backlash

The apology and the handling of the incident has been criticised by a range of people both in and outside of the sport.

Rapper Briggs took to social media to say the only thing he learned from the video was that Taylor Walker can read, while former Port Adelaide star Kane Corners insisted Walker front the media and answer questions. 

Despite the response, the AFL and the Adelaide Crows are standing by the apology video. 

Speaking to NITV News on Tuesday, the AFL’s Executive Manager of Social policy and Inclusion, Tanya Hosch said she was “really disappointed” to see the backlash.

“I know that (the apology) is something that happened as a result of close consultation with Robbie, and Robbie wanted to be part of the remedy in response to what’s happened,” said Ms Hosch. 

“It’s not just a matter of calling racism out but it takes real work and real commitment to turn racist beliefs and actions around and I hope that’s what we see.”

As well as the suspension, Walker is also required to donate $20,000 to an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program. 

The sanctions were agreed upon by the AFL, Robbie Young and the complainant who reported Walker for making the racist comment. 

The decisions have also come under fire with calls for Walker to be sacked, but Ms Hosch defended the measures. 

“I can appreciate that a lot of people think, ‘hey, you know what, that’s not enough', but I think what’s important to remember is that it did go through a process of conciliation where the victim and complainant had to be satisfied with what happens,” she said. 

“It’s the largest sanction that anyone in our code has ever had for racial vilification.

“I think it reminds us of the burden of responsibility that often falls back on Indigenous Australians through these processes, where, we’re expected to be conciliatory.”

Walker’s future in doubt 

On Tuesday, Adelaide Football Club CEO, Tim Silvers said it was too early to say that Walker would be a player at the club next season. 

Despite holding a contract for 2022, Silvers said Walker’s comments had affected several people within the club, including players and support staff. 

“It’s too early to guarantee that (Walker will play for the Crows again),” said Silvers on SEN.

“He is contracted and we’ve got to work with a number of different people.

“The culture of our footy club is first and foremost.

“We need to get that right then look to reintegrate Taylor when the time is right.

“We’re going to support him, however, this has affected a number of people within our club, some of our past players as well, so we need that time to help heal, understand their thoughts and emotions, and just get better as a footy club.”

Adelaide AFL star Taylor Walker banned for 6 matches for racist comment
The Crows forward will also apologise to the Adelaide and North Adelaide clubs, undertake education training and will donate $20,000 towards a South Australian Indigenous program.