South West Football League community AFL player calls for stronger on-field action against racist assaults

A WA footballer is calling for tougher penalties and refereeing powers to stop racial abuse on the field after being defamed during a game in Bunbury.

As the AFL celebrates Indigenous contribution to the game with the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, a South West Football League Noongar player has spoken out after officially reporting an incident during a game against South Bunbury on May 14.

Hayden Yarran, who plays as a forward at Carey Park, said he was the subject of repeated racial slurs by an opponent while a referee was nearby.

“I heard one of the South Bunbury players yell, ‘Hurry up you yowie, we don’t have all day,'” he said.

“A Yowie is shaped like a monkey [mythical] thing out of the bush.”

Mr Yarran said he felt his opponent “just called me a monkey”.

“There is no penalty on the field”

He said he initially ignored the taunt, but when it happened again he decided to report it.

“Enough is enough,” he said.

“In their rule book there is no penalty for an incident on the field like a racial slur.

“It also goes up to the AFL level.

“I have a lot of friends in the AFL that I’ve spoken to … and there’s no rule at their level [either].”

AFL Rule 35 covers racist and sexist slander from one player to another and by club officials such as B. a coach, in AFL, AFLW and community football.

“It’s an AFL thing too”

Players can be reported and under Law 23 of the Laws of the Game, which applies to community football, a referee can “dismiss” a player for “a serious misconduct”.

Mr Yarran said the referee reported the incident to a South West Football League representative at the game.

South West Football League President Barry Tate said the formal policy needed to be changed to give umpires the power to issue on-field penalties for a racial slur.

“I’ve already emailed the Football Commission,” he said.

“It’s also an AFL thing.

“This has not been updated since 2013.”

South Bunbury fined $200

The charge of racial slur was heard by the League Tribunal, which found South Bunbury Club guilty. A $200 fine was imposed and a seminar on racial slur was ordered to be repeated.

Mr Tate said the seminar is something that all clubs within the league are required to do every year.

He said South Bunbury would do it again, with a league official, an Indigenous elder and at least 75 per cent of all players in attendance.

“We are very strong and we will not tolerate that [racism] at all,” Mr Tate said.

He said racism on the pitch should not be tolerated and he encouraged more players to come forward if they saw or heard it.

“It’s still out there, unfortunately,” he said.

South Bunbury president Leigh Wright said the club would release a statement on Monday. He declined to comment further.

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