THE FOOTBALL world rose to the occasion last weekend and the AFL is proud of the way our clubs and supporters showed their strong support for Adam Goodes.
I have been fortunate to be a director of the two organisations in Australia which I believe have achieved much for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders - Rio Tinto and the AFL.
Rio creating real jobs, helping develop indigenous businesses; the AFL administering a game that has grown and encouraged indigenous talent and opportunity.
The AFL has led the country in its acceptance and promotion of indigenous players. There have been iconic gestures that have become part of our folklore and there has been hard community work on the ground. Racist comments on the field and off have been brought to account.
The booing of Adam Goodes may or may not have begun for other reasons, but the AFL Commission is of the view that this is about race and cannot be condoned at our games.
This is not what we stand for. The AFL, this most Australian of sports, stands for a fair go for all, men, women, black, white, Muslim, Asian. It is broad, inclusive and the most egalitarian of sports.
In the early 2000s, I was invited to toss the coin at a Carlton/Swans game. I stood next to Adam Goodes in the centre of the ground at Princes Park. I remember assessing how I would have gone against him - he was a wonderful athlete in his prime, tall, strong and agile, emanating controlled aggression and a hint of menace. He was Peter Moore, he was Don Scott, he was Stephen Michael and a bit of Polly Farmer. I decided I would have enjoyed the contest, but not the result.
Adam Goodes is the most decorated indigenous player ever to play AFL. The awards did not come easily, they were earned, and they were celebrated. Now Adam's career is near the end, he is still playing fine football. He deserves to play and be judged on his merits as a player, and he deserves our respect as one of the greats of our game.
Let me make this very clear. Adam Goodes has the unanimous support of the AFL Commission and when I attend the game in Geelong this week, I hope to see this great champion of our game back on the field where he belongs.