AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has thrown his support behind Adam Goodes but the dual-Brownlow medallist’s indigenous war cry continues to polarise opinion.
Goodes celebrated a goal in the Swans’ win over Carlton on Friday night by advancing on a pocket of Blues’ supporters while performing the traditional dance – a display AFL legend Leigh Matthews felt unnecessarily incited the crowd.
McLachlan, however, has no such concerns.
“We are a big enough game to accept and celebrate this type of expression,” McLachlan said via Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show.
“The indigenous round is a time to celebrate reconciliation and it’s a time to reflect on the changes that still need to happen.
“Adam Goodes has my full support and the full support of the AFL.”
Matthews has no problem with overt displays of aggression but said they must stay between the on-field combatants.
“The only principle for me was, ‘Do we want to encourage players to … incite supporters by running to the fence and having a go at them?’ Matthews said on Channel Seven.
“I don’t think we want that in our game.
“It has nothing to do with this particular cause or celebration.
“I was uncomfortable, I think it’s a bad principle, and I think that we’ve got to say (to) on-field performers, ‘Whatever you do to each other, leave the crowd out of it’.”
For his part, Goodes said he meant no offence, intended the dance to be an expression of pride in his culture and was surprised by the reaction.
The booing Goodes receives from opposition fans has been the subject of much debate, with his term as Australian of the year, the way he plays the game and racial undertones all put forward as reasons.
Hawthorn’s Shaun Burgoyne believes it to be a combination of all three factors but whatever the motivation, says it should stop.
“I hate the booing … he’s a champion person and a champion player,” Burgoyne told Channel Seven’s Game Day.
“I think he’s earned respect over 18 or 19 years of playing the game. He’s very outspoken about his culture and his beliefs, which is great.
“It’s tough seeing a mate of yours go through this.
“I believe all of our champions deserve to be appreciated for what they’ve given to the game.”
Burgoyne felt Goodes’ war cry had been taken out of context.
“I think the Carlton fans should be proud that he’s doing it to them,” he said.
“In no way do I think he was meaning to make them angry.
“I think it was a show of respect.”