The AFL community is rallying behind Eddie Betts as the veteran Carlton forward continues calling out racist abuse he receives on social media.
An offensive post, referencing Betts and including a photo of a monkey, came to light on Twitter over the weekend.
The tweet originated from an Essendon supporter’s account and the Bombers have confirmed they are investigating the matter.
The club said if they were an Essendon member, their membership would immediately be cancelled.
“On behalf of the Essendon Football Club, we apologise to not only Eddie Betts, but the entire Indigenous community across our game, for this abhorrent racial vilification,” the club said in a statement on Monday.
“The Essendon Football Club strongly condemns any form of racism.”
It is the latest in a string of racial attacks against Betts, with the former Adelaide Crows livewire revealing in May he had already been abused online three times in 2020.
One of the AFL’s greatest small forwards, Betts has been racially abused countless times throughout his glittering 317-game career.
Carlton co-captain Sam Docherty said Betts’ vilification underlined the need for the AFL, its clubs and players to take a stand.
“We’ve seen the stance we’ve taken as a footy club. I think they found out pretty early on Saturday morning and they’ve acted as they saw fit,” Docherty told reporters on Monday.
“We’re seeing at the moment there’s a lot of this in society and for what criticism the AFL’s getting for being political, I think what we’re trying to do is just make it right.
“He’s one of our teammates, one of our most loved figures at our footy club and to see him vilified like that, it does hurt us.
“Anyone that’s asking a question about why we’re taking a knee pre-game or why we’re trying to make a difference, why we’re trying to actually do something about it – this is the exact reason why.
“I can’t understand what that does to Eddie, and I never will – and I don’t think any of us will, that don’t go through that.
“We’ve just got to wrap our arms around him and being silent hasn’t worked for a number of years – so as an industry and as a footy club we’ve got to stand behind our Indigenous players and make a stand.”
Across round two, AFL teams took a knee pre-game and wore black T-shirts during their warm-ups, showing their support for and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Sunday, Betts posted on Instagram about the derogatory and racist tweet.
“If at any time anyone is wondering why we work so hard to bring attention to the importance of stamping out racism, this is it,” Betts wrote on the post.
“If ever there was a time where our focus on this needs to continue more than ever, it’s now.”