Brisbane Lions Callum Ah Che has referred the club to the AFL Integrity Unit after calling out online racial abuse in Caleton’s successful appeal against skipper Patrick Cripps’ two-week ban.
Cripps was cleared by the AFL Appeals Board on Thursday night to be handed a two-week ban for causing a major injury to Ah Che in last week’s clash at the Gabba.
The AFL confirmed on Friday it would not appeal the decision and Cripps was free to play against Melbourne this weekend.
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But amid the fallout, Ah Che, who was injured in the accident and will miss Brisbane’s game against St Kilda due to AFL concussion protocols, was the target of racial abuse, which he said on his personal Instagram account.
“Not something you want to wake up to in the morning,” he posted.
“How can this still happen. Why can’t my brothers and I just play the game we love without having to worry about something like this…if my son grows up playing the game – I hope he doesn’t have to deal with this hate.
“It hurts and I’m sick to death watching it.”
The Lions condemned the comments as “disgusting” and reported the behavior to the AFL’s Integrity Unit.
“The Brisbane Lions respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the incredible contribution of Indigenous players to our club and the great game,” a club statement said.
“It’s a sad thing to do, but at times like this we take the approach as a footy club to remind people to educate themselves about the damage racial comments and online abuse can do.”
“We are a family of lions and when one gets hurt, we all get hurt.
“If you know someone who behaves like that, call them out on it as totally unacceptable.”
Ah Chi was backed by Brisbane teammate Mitch Robinson, who said the abuse was “as poor as it gets”.
“Sickened to see Indigenous and multicultural players being racially abused over and over again,” he tweeted.
If you see it, report it even if you know these uneducated trolls on social media calling you out repeatedly.
The AFL has confirmed it will not appeal the overturn of Cripps’ ban, saying the case “involves complex issues” but the reasons for the decision will be closely reviewed.
“The AFL overturns the decision of the AFL Appeals Board and accepts the tribunal’s decision to suspend Patrick Cripps of the Carlton Football Club,” a league statement said.
“As the Chairman of the Appeals Board commented last night, the matter involved complexities and the AFL will closely scrutinize the Appeals Board’s detailed reasoning for a decision over time.”
“That said, the health and safety of our players at professional and community level is of the utmost importance and health and safety will continue to inform the AFL’s ongoing work to take action for those injured or at risk.”