The captains’ open letter tells fans that a ticket to the football does not buy the right to leave their “respect and decent behaviour” at the gate. Prime minister Tony Abbott has also called for an end to the booing of Goodes, which has been increasing in intensity over the past year, since he celebrated a win with an indigenous war cry. Abbott said “You don’t have to agree with everything that Adam says … nevertheless there should be a basic respect given to sportspeople”. Federal Indigenous Affairs minister Nigel Scullion also said: “It would be a blight on this nation if (Goodes) was to retire” as a result of the booing.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan prepared a letter to supporters, who he said: “have always owned what is appropriate behavior off the field”. The open letter from the club captains spoke on behalf of more than 800 players and the AFL Players Association, expressing their opposition to the booing of Goodes, which has seen him take a leave of absence from the game.
The move was approved by all club captains, with Dyson Heppell stepping in for injured Essendon skipper Jobe Watson, who is in the UK. “We call on all supporters, from all clubs, and industry leaders to join us as we make a stand against vilification,” the open letter said. “Enough is enough. Enjoy the game, celebrate the success. But don’t boo, jeer or taunt players because of who they are or what they stand for. “We’re all human. We’re all in this together. And together we can make a difference.”
The letter goes on to encourage fans to have a zero tolerance approach to vilification. The players encourage fans to report such behaviour, as happened at Domain Stadium during the Swans clash against West Coast in round 17. “When you come to the footy, join us in putting a stop to offensive behaviour. Be the voice that makes a positive impact,” the captains write.”Stand with us to ensure our game remains great for everyone.”
Gillon McLachlan said supporters held the power to welcome Goodes back to the game in the right way when he next plays.
“You can’t tell 90,000 people to stand in silence at the MCG and respect and reflect on the sacrifice of so many,” McLachlan told 3AW. “You can’t tell the 300,000 people that went to the footy a few weeks ago [after the death of Phil Walsh] to behave in the way they did and with the extraordinary, spontaneous respect that provided so much support to a family, a football club and a state. “And in the end we have incredible supporters, who through this incredibly polarising week I hope, as we look forward, will understand that they respect our players, our club, our game.”And despite the perspectives on how we got here, that in the end we need to go forward, and to do that Adam has to feel comfortable to come back.”
“It is about respect for all players, not just Adam. We obviously love the fans, but we want them to respect what we are doing.
According to The Guardian, Sydney coach John Longmire and team-mates believe Goodes will return to play out the AFL season despite the booing controversy.