AFL star Eddie Betts has given an emotional plea to all Australians amid the Taylor Walker racism scandal.
Walker was stood down for the remainder of the AFL season when he was handed a six-game ban and a $20,000 fine for a racist comment directed at North Adelaide’s Robbie Young.
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Walker appeared in a video on the Adelaide Football Club’s website with Young and apologised to the player and the community.
But the video fell flat for some with Walker not facing media and walking away from the club.
Earlier on Tuesday, Adelaide Crows CEO Tim Silvers refused to assure Walker of a position at the club in the future.
But Betts, who played six seasons as teammates at Adelaide, delivered a powerful and emotional pleas to all of Australia after he was once again brought in to speak on behalf of his people as the most high profile Indigenous star in the AFL.
It was just two months ago that Betts gave an emotional interview around Adam Goodes rejecting his place in the AFL Hall of Fame, while Betts himself just last season was targeting with a vile tweet featuring a monkey on his return to Carlton.
Betts has repeatedly called out racist slurs throughout his career, including when he was at the Crows.
But with yet another racism scandal engulfing the AFL, Betts has had enough.
“It’s been hard to be honest,” he said on AFL 360. “It’s been really tough to deal with especially when it comes to racism. I’ve been dealing with this my whole life, my mother has, my father has, and it’s tiring. It hurts, it’s draining … it actually really hurts to be honest.
“I’m starting to get emotional about it just talking about it here. Everything that’s happened over the past 48 hours to the last week, it’s been hard. I just need everyone to go on a journey and start educating and start those conversations. Taylor Walker’s going on his journey at the moment and I know what kind of person Taylor Walker is and I know he’ll keep to his word. He’ll do this to 110 per cent.
“It just hurts. And you have to look at it, last night Kossie Pickett getting racially abused again over in Western Australia. I was racially abused last week and the week before – I don’t know if you saw my story in The Age – it just keeps happening.
“I’m sick of it. I’m sick of fighting. It’s draining. I’ve been on this show pouring my heart out begging, hoping Australia would listen and it’s hard. We need to start having those conversations in the workplace, in the schooling. The only way we’re going to work together is when we start educating ourselves.
“I can’t do it, I can’t, it’s hard. And I need everyone, I need you guys, I need the people at home tonight watching this. You guys that are sitting at home on the couch, you guys are going to be the ones with the powerful voice here, you guys are going to be the ones to make change. Because I can’t keep doing it.
“You hear me speaking about it year after year after year and nothing’s going to change so it’s up to you guys to make change. You guys on the couches, start having those conversations in home, start it with your friends and your family. Call out racism when you see it, because there is no room for racism in Australia. And we as Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people are sick of fighting. We are. We’re sick of fighting because it just keeps happening and happening and happening and I’m tired, I honestly am. I said to a lot of the Indigenous boys that it’s getting to me.
“And I’ll keep fighting no matter what, no matter how emotional I get, no matter how drained I am, I’ll fight. I’ll fight for my people, I’ll fight for the next generation of young Aboriginal kids who come in to play AFL footy to make this a safe place for us to come and enjoy the game we love. I don’t know how many times though that I’ve got to front up an talk about it, fight about it. We need the rest of Australia to stand up, to fight, to stamp it out, because there is no room for racism in Australia.”
As former teammates, Betts said Walker had spoken to him but said he would keep the details of the conversation to himself.
He said that the video posted by Walker with Robbie Young said it was “tough” but that Taylor would educate himself.
Speaking on Fox Footy’s On the Couch, former Brownlow Medallist Gerard Healy said it was “some of the more powerful TV I’ve seen in a long while”, while each of these issues “set us back 10 years”.
Jonathan Brown added that it was “one of the more powerful things I’ve seen.”
But former Melbourne legend Garry Lyon said that he would pledge to do his part.
“I will pledge Ed, that on behalf of me only but I’m sure these guys will, I will take it up,” Lyon said. “I’ve been part of the problem, I’ve told you many times in a long-gone era, and I will Ed. I’m up for it and I will. I’ll call it out. I haven’t, you hear stuff in environments and I’ll call it out for what it means.”