It is “deeply unfortunate” people chose a football game to make a political statement, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says.
An anti-Muslim banner adorned with logos for the far-right political group United Patriots Front was raised at the MCG during Friday night’s AFL clash between Collingwood and Richmond.
The sign, which read “Stop the mosques”, was displayed by the scoreboard at the City End of the ground at halftime.
A video of the banner being put in place was later uploaded to the UPF’s Facebook page.
“There is a time and a place and that was not the time and not the place,” Ms Bishop said in Washington on Saturday.
“I don’t believe that those sentiments add anything to the debate about what is a serious challenge and that is trying to ensure that Australians live side by side, exercising a high degree of tolerance and appreciation of each other’s cultures, backgrounds and differences.”
The AFL condemned the incident after the game, saying “such actions have no place in society, and not in our game.”
“Match-day security removed the banner when they became aware of it and evicted the patrons responsible,” its statement said.
The AFL will follow up the incident with MCG security and Victoria Police.
The banner, which also said “Go Pies”, drew swift condemnation from Collingwood, with president Eddie McGuire promising bans if the culprits were found to have any official connection to the club.
“The club awaits the outcome of further investigations into the matter by the AFL, the Victoria Police and MCG security,” a club statement read.
“Regardless, these people do not speak for Collingwood and are condemned by Collingwood. If it established that they have a formal connection to the club, this connection will be severed.
“There is no place at Collingwood, or in our game, for such behaviour.”