AFL stands up against racism

Thursday 28 May 2015

Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane with AFL captains and star players. Photo credit: AFL Photos.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane has welcomed AFL’s renewed commitment to tackle racism in Australia.

As the 2015 Toyota AFL Indigenous Round kicks off this week, star players from all 18 AFL clubs have pledged support for the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign.

“Around one in five Australians have experienced verbal racial abuse and around five per cent have experienced physical assault because of their race,” Commissioner Soutphommasane said.

“To have a representative from each AFL club stand up and say ‘it stops with me’ sends a very powerful message that racism is unacceptable in our community.”

Star players from each club pledged their support for the campaign when they came together on AFL Captains Day.

The Racism. It Stops with Me campaign has received support from more than 350 organisations, including 53 sporting organisations. All major sporting bodies are formal supporters, including the AFL, National Rugby League, Football Federation Australia, Cricket Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee. 

The AFL Players Association and a number of individual AFL clubs, including Hawthorn Football Club, Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne, have also pledged support for the campaign.

AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said the 20 year anniversary of the AFL Racial Vilification Policy will also be commemorated as part of the Indigenous Round.

“In 2015, we honour the 20th anniversary of the AFL Racial and Religious Vilification Policy, the first anti-racism rules in Australian sport,” Mr McLachlan said.

“It was a landmark moment for reconciliation, promoting an inclusive AFL community built on mutual respect, opportunities and strong relationships with Indigenous Australians.”

Commissioner Soutphommasane said the AFL has played a leading role in addressing racism in sport throughout its history.

“I recall the famous moment in 1993, when Nicky Winmar responded to racial taunts from opposition supporters by lifting up his shirt and proudly pointing to the colour of his skin,” Commissioner Soutphommasane said.

“Twenty years ago, Michael Long, another brave champion of Indigenous rights, formally complained about racial abuse from a Collingwood player and set in motion powerful change within the code. In 1995, AFL became the first sporting code in Australia to introduce a rule prohibiting racial vilification.

“The legacy of Winmar and Long continues today with Adam Goodes serving as an inspiring AFL ambassador for Racism. It Stops With Me.”

For more information about the campaign visit