Collingwood stripped a fan of his membership for racially vilifying Wilkinson at the MCG last weekend. O’Brien said he had twice spoken to Nigerian-born Wilkinson and rather than feel anger, the pair both pitied the man. “I actually feel more sorry for this person who has this level of awareness and acts in that way in public than I do for Joel Wilkinson,” said O’Brien, who has a Brazilian mother and Congolese father.
While he agreed with the suspension of the membership, O’Brien wanted the fan to be educated, rather than excluded. “We should try to empower them with the required knowledge to function in society without discriminating against others,” he said.