A WA footballer is leading calls for stronger penalties and umpire powers to stop on-field racial abuse after he was vilified during a match in Bunbury.
- Hayden Yarran says an opponent repeatedly called him a “yowie”.
- The South West Football League is asking the AFL to formalise how umpires should respond to abuse
- The offending player’s club, South Bunbury, has been fined $200
As the AFL celebrates the Indigenous contribution to the game with the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, a Noongar player in the South West Football League has spoken up after formally reporting an incident during a game against South Bunbury on May 14.
Hayden Yarran, who plays as a forward with Carey Park, said he was the subject of a repeated racial slur by an opponent while an umpire was nearby.
“I heard one of the South Bunbury players yelling out, ‘Hurry up, you yowie, we don’t have all day’,” he said.
“A yowie is like a monkey-shaped [mythical] thing from the bush.”
Mr Yarran said he felt his opponent was “just calling me a monkey.”
‘There’s no on-field penalty’
He said he ignored the taunt initially but when it happened again he decided to report it.
“Enough is enough,” he said.
“In their rule book, there’s no penalty as such for an on-field incident like a racial slur.
“That goes all the way up to the AFL level too.
“I’ve got plenty of friends in the AFL that I’ve spoken to … and there’s no rule at their level [either].”
The AFL’s rule 35 covers racist and sexist vilification from one player to another and by club officials, like a coach, in AFL, AFLW and community football.
‘This is an AFL thing, too’
Players can be reported and, under law 23 of the rules of the game which applies to community football, an umpire can “order off” a player for “an act of serious misconduct”.
Mr Yarran said the umpire reported the incident to a South West Football League representative at the game.
South West Football League president Barry Tate said formal guidelines had to change so umpires had the power to give on-field penalties for a racial slur.
“I’ve already sent an email to the football commission,” he said.
“This is an AFL thing too.
“This hasn’t been updated since 2013.”
$200 fine for South Bunbury
The racial vilification charge was heard by the league’s tribunal, which found the South Bunbury club guilty. It was fined $200 and ordered to repeat a racial vilification seminar.
Mr Tate said the seminar was something all clubs within the league were required to undertake each 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 on this and we don’t condone [racism] at all,” Mr Tate said.
He said racism on the field should not be tolerated and he encouraged more players to come forward if they saw or heard it happening.
“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.