Eddie Betts of the Blues in action.
Eddie Betts of the Blues in action.

Fed up Betts thought about quitting footy

Eddie Betts has declared he is "sick and tired" of being subjected to racism that makes him question why he plays football.

Betts, 33, last week publicised a racist social media post he had received on Twitter, which he said was an all-too-regular occurrence.

In a passionate and emotional interview on Fox Footy, Betts opened up on the toll that such treatment has taken on him throughout his 318-game AFL career.

"I'm absolutely sick of copping it," he said on AFL360.

"It hurts. It deeply hurts. And you think to yourself, why should I keep playing footy if I'm going to keep copping this? I want to make a change."

Betts said he had considered whether to call out the post.

"It was tough … I actually wasn't going to post it," he said.

"I thought, 'What's going to happen?', 'Do I have to deal with it again?' … it's just tiring, fighting, fighting, fighting, it just keeps happening every year for the last 10 years.

"(It happens) online, I had a banana thrown at me (at a game) … and quite frankly, I'm getting really sick and tired of it. You kind of think, 'Why am I playing footy?'. But then I think to myself, I need to let people know what I'm going through."

 

Eddie Betts inspired Carlton’s upset win against Geelong.
Eddie Betts inspired Carlton’s upset win against Geelong.

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Despite the pain, Betts said he remained committed to calling out racism and pushing for change.

"With everything that's going on in the world … this stuff is still happening here in Australia and is still happening to us, Aboriginal people here in Australia," he said.

"I need people to understand that I've got to set up barriers every day when I leave the house.

"I think … I'm going to get racially abused when I'm driving, when I got to a supermarket.

"I just want to rock up to training, play, enjoy the game of footy. But before then I've got to set up barriers for myself because I get racially abused."

The Blues forward - who played for Carlton between 2005 and 2013 and six seasons at Adelaide before returning to the Blues at the end of last season - said it was disappointing to admit that "it'll happen next week again".

But he is willing to "take the full brunt" of whatever comes his way if it helps to pave the way for young indigenous players to tread an easier path.

"If I have to take all of this racial abuse from a mile away to set the standard so these young Aboriginal kids can come and play footy and enjoy it without being racially abused, I'm happy to cop the brunt."

Betts revealed racism had touched his family for generations.

"My dad's Eddie Betts, my grandfather's Eddie Betts," he explained.

"He was sick in Port Lincoln. He went to the doctors. The doctors turned him away - he had chest pain. They thought he was drunk. They took him to the cells. He died alone in the cells, by himself, at age 49.

"I wish I had grown up with my grandfather … I know he'd be proud of me and carrying on the name Eddie Betts.

"I hope that we continue to make change in the future."

 

Eddie Betts has questioned his place in the game after being subjected to to repeated racist abuse.
Eddie Betts has questioned his place in the game after being subjected to to repeated racist abuse.

 

BETTS' MUM SLAMS VILE TWITTER TROLLS

The mother of AFL star Eddie Betts has revealed the depth of hurt he and their family have felt after the latest in a sickening series of racist online taunts.

Cindy Sambo this week said the "jealous and ugly" trolls who post vile racist material online must continue to be called out.

The hunt is on for the most recent abuser, who posted a picture of a chimpanzee alongside a reference to Betts.

Ms Sambo said each time the Carlton forward was targeted, it reignited painful memories of his late grandfather Edward Frederick Betts, who died aged 49 in the cells at South Australia's Port Lincoln police station in 1987.

"It's quite sad, actually, and it hurts ... it hurts Edward, it hurts me and it hurts all of his family," Ms Sambo said.

"His grandfather died in custody and every time something comes up, it affects our family very much. My first reaction is anger because it's my son and I get very angry and disappointed that this is still happening.

"You shouldn't have to, but when you grow up with it, you get used to it.

"We're trying to move forward and raise our children the right way and teach them not to be racist, and that's really hard when they face racism every day.

"It's time to stamp it out and stop it. They are jealous and ugly people and they need to get a life."

Eddie Betts has been subjected to more racist abuse on social media.
Eddie Betts has been subjected to more racist abuse on social media.

Ms Sambo, who was shown the post by her daughter, said her son and family were comforted by the widespread support from fellow AFL players past and present, leading athletes from other codes, such as soccer's Sam Kerr and rugby league's Josh Addo-Carr, and celebrities including Megan Gale and Bec Judd.

"We've had a lot of loss in our family, so Edward knows what's important," Ms Sambo said. "I think he's doing it right calling it out every time and hopefully we're on the right track."

The Essendon Football Club, believing the abuser was a Bombers supporter, has asked fans of the club to help reveal his identity and promised to ban him if he was a member. The profile used to make the post had been deactivated on Monday.

Betts had earlier reposted the vile tweet on his Instagram page.

"If at any time anyone is wondering why we work so hard to bring attention to the importance of stamping out racism, this is it," the 33-year-old wrote in his post.

"If ever there was a time where our focus on this needs to continue more than ever, it's now. We each have a responsibility to ourselves and each other. To continue to listen. To learn. To educate.

"To ignore it is to be part of the problem, to call it out is to be part of the solution."

 

Eddie Betts and Jake Lever take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter. Picture: Michael Klein
Eddie Betts and Jake Lever take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter. Picture: Michael Klein

Carlton co-captain Sam Docherty said the incident underlined the need for the AFL, as well as its clubs and players, to take a stand.

"We're seeing at the moment there's a lot of this in society ... I think what we're trying to do is just make it right," Docherty said. "He's one of our teammates, one of our most loved figures at our footy club and to see him vilified like that, it does hurt us."

Essendon posted its support of Betts, who it described as a "wonderful role model and a champion of our game".

"On behalf of the Essendon Football Club, we apologise to not only Eddie Betts, but the entire indigenous community across our game, for this abhorrent racial vilification," it said.

"(The club) strongly condemns any form of racism. Racism has absolutely no place in our society. This must stop now. It starts with all of us."

Player union boss Paul Marsh on Monday vowed players will continue to call out the kind of racism Betts has been subjected to, saying almost every indigenous player has been racially vilified at some stage.

And Marsh says the AFLPA will continue to offer its services to ex-Collingwood player Heritier Lumumba as he accuses his former club of a culture of racism.

Marsh said he was shattered that Betts was so consistently abused racially after speaking to the Carlton star on Monday about the latest social media abuse.

Marsh said he was buoyed by the fact that the AFL was handing out life bans for abuse, with the PA continually referring racial abuse to the AFL's integrity team.

But Marsh said as much as players would never stop their campaign of publicly calling out racism, people needed to educate themselves and their families on indigenous issues.

"I had a good chat to (Eddie) today about it and he's obviously a mature player. Sadly, this has happened to him so many times but it still hurts and I think there would be very few indigenous players who haven't been vilified in some way, shape or form. That is really sad.

Eddie Betts is a Blues fan favourite. Picture: Michael Klein
Eddie Betts is a Blues fan favourite. Picture: Michael Klein

Non-indigenous players don't have to put up with it.

"It's been well documented this was a decision made at the 2019 indigenous players camp (to publicly call out racist abuse) and we will continue to do it. But the encouraging thing from where I sit is that it was brought to my attention by a member of the public, which shows we are getting traction.

"And secondly every time we do it there is no negative feedback, people are really supportive of that message.

"Every time I talk to our indigenous players they always say, 'Ask questions, educate yourself about indigenous culture'. They urge every football fan to do something to educate themselves, not just when it's trending. Let's talk about it constantly, we are just seeing too many issues like this."

Brownlow medallist Gavin Wanganeen labelled the taunt against Betts "disgusting".

Aboriginal players such as Neville Jetta and Shaun Burgoyne, and former stars Chance Bateman and Michael O'Loughlin also pledged their support along with Hawthorn forward Chad Wingard, who earlier this month declared a personal media ban in protest at the reporting of George Floyd's death in the United States.

Collingwood premiership player Heretier Lumumba, who has said he faced racist abuse during his time at the Magpies, also posted in support of Betts. "Eddie, thank you for sharing," he wrote.

"You are exactly right, NOW is the time for us to raise our voices, unity, and demand that there is an end to this ...

"Keep speaking out my brother. I stand with you."

Marsh said the AFLPA had spoken to Lumumba in previous years as he states he will only talk to the Magpies about his issues when they concede their failures about racial attitudes.

"It's difficult to talk about the specifics of the support we provide. All I will say is that we have been in touch with Heritier over the journey and he has access as a member of the AFLPA to all the support services. It's just like Eddie Betts' issues. We don't want to see anyone feel they are not included in this industry. Hopefully he can work through his issues with Collingwood and potentially the AFL."

Across last weekend's fixtures, teams took a knee pre-game, showing their support for and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Originally published as Fed up Betts thought about quitting footy


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