Australia, the “sporting nation”, has a problem. The idea of Australia as the “fair-go” country must be laid to rest as a myth. Australia is a racist nation that has shown that it will never tolerate an Aboriginal person “getting above themselves”. The Adam Goodes saga — in which the Sydney Swans superstar has faced repeated booing from AFL crowds ever since he performed a traditional Indigenous war dance to celebrate a goal during the AFL's Indigenous round in May — has laid bare the racism for all to see.
In the AFL’s nationalistic carnival, the Anzac Round, the Melbourne Demons and Richmond Tigers were lining up for their game on April 24. One of the Tigers players Bachar Houli, is one of the AFL’s “multicultural ambassadors”. He is also the first practicing Muslim to play in the AFL. Elsewhere, Houli was being described quite differently. John Burns, radio broadcaster for Melbourne’s 3AW was reported to have labelled him a “terrorist”. The comment was overheard at a Richmond Football Club function by a senior club staffer and subsequently reported.
David Pocock is a rugby player in the Australian national rugby union team. He was also recently arrested. In reacting to his arrest and the reason for it, some have suggested that Pocock may not be the right man to captain the Wallabies in the future.
A bushfire that swept through the Adelaide Hills in early January has destroyed 27 homes, ravaged the local environment and killed many pets and animals. Large smoke plumes were visible from the Adelaide CBD and several Adelaide suburbs were evacuated. It is similar to other severe fires, such as in the Blue Mountains in NSW last year and the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009, which climate scientists say will occur more frequently.
Australian sport, particularly Australian rules football, has enjoyed a positive place in the public psyche. It has managed to perpetuate an image of an all-encompassing and all-welcoming environment, a world away from hooliganism and violent crowds often associated in the popular imagination with “soccer”. The AFL has messages recorded by the captains of each club played before games encouraging their supporters to be passionate, but reminding them that the football arena should be a welcoming one for all supporters and indeed the players.