AFL captains plea for stop to Goodes boos

He’s received support across the footy codes and wider sporting landscape, now AFL captains have united to issue the ultimate show of solidarity for Adam Goodes.

The skippers of all 18 clubs have released a joint statement to football fans, in which they call out “unacceptable behaviour” and plead with them to stop the relentless booing that has dogged Goodes for months.

As the distressed dual Brownlow medallist takes time out on indefinite leave from the Sydney Swans and reportedly ponders his playing future, the statement – made on behalf of every player in the AFL – has declared “enough is enough” with the vilification.

“As leaders we are accountable for everything we do on and off the field,” reads the statement published on the AFL Players Association website.

“We think it’s just as important for us to be accountable and call out unacceptable behaviour when we see it.

“And sadly this week we have all seen it.”

They urged the public to celebrate the game’s diversity and shield it from prejudice.

“Enjoy the game, celebrate the success,” they wrote.

“But don’t boo, jeer or taunt players because of who they are or what they stand for.”

AFL Players chief executive Paul Marsh said the statement was written after he was approached by a large number of players who wanted to send a united message to fans.

All captains – with Dyson Heppell standing in for injured Essendon skipper Jobe Watson – approved the move, as public debate continues to rage over whether the booing is racially motivated.

“The players, as a collective, feel very strongly about this issue; we have got one of our brothers who is doing it very tough at the moment,” Marsh said.

The unprecedented show of support supplements an already widespread backing of Goodes by clubs and players in the AFL and NRL.

Richmond will be the first to bring it to the field of play when the Tigers wear their indigenous-themed guernseys for their clash with AFL premiership favourites Hawthorn at the MCG on Friday night.

“The fact of the matter is that it’s bullying at best and racism at worst,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said on Thursday.

“We just wanted to throw our support (behind Adam).

“It’s not something the AFL community wants to see – one of the greats of our game not playing because of this impact.”

The Western Bulldogs will also wear their indigenous strip in Sunday’s clash against Essendon.

“Every time I’ve heard the boos of this mob I’ve hung my head in despair, chin to chest,” Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy wrote in a column for Fairfax Media.

“I suspect it’s been the same for some players at every club in the AFL.

“… Hopefully this weekend Adam can feel the support he has around him from those who play alongside him.”

North Queensland rugby league great Johnathan Thurston has pledged to do a war dance celebration if he scores a try for the Cowboys in Saturday’s NRL game against Canberra.

Greg Inglis, who has played in all three of the NRL’s Indigenous All Stars fixtures, is also ready to join in on the celebrations.

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