Sydney star Adam Goodes is having time off from the AFL as he struggles to cope with the racial vilification drama that has reignited around him.
His mum has made an emotional plea for opposition fans to lay off the two-time Brownlow Medallist.
Goodes did not attend Swans training on Tuesday and it is unclear for now whether he will be available for Saturday’s home game against Adelaide.
The AFL has also hardened its language after the latest blowup, when West Coast fans constantly booing Goodes during last Sunday’s match in Perth.
Fellow indigenous Sydney player Lewis Jetta made a war cry dance at a section of the crowd in the last quarter as a show of support for Goodes.
A day after saying he did not have a clear view about why fans were booing Goodes, league chief executive Gillon McLachlan directly linked the issue to racism.
Goodes’ mother Lisa Sansbury said he should be allowed to play football without the abuse.
“Emotionally, you can see it’s having an effect on him,” she told Channel Seven.
“So come on guys, give him a break and let him play football.
“It’s really, really heartbreaking to be watching him play football and then hearing opposition fans booing him every time he touches the ball.
“If it doesn’t have anything to do with racism, then why are they booing him every time he gets his hands to the ball?
“What’s your problem guys?”
Indigenous official Jason Mifsud briefed Tuesday’s meeting of the AFL Commission about the Goodes issue.
“Racism has no place in our game, and while I respect that people may have different views about what is happening to Adam, it is impossible to separate this issue from the issue of race,” McLachlan later said.
“The booing of Adam Goodes is being felt as racism by him and by many in our football community.
“As such, I urge our supporters to understand the toll this is having, the message it is sending, and that it does not reflect well on our game.”
The AFL Players Association also met with Sydney and the AFL as senior figures across the game publicly supported Goodes and called on fans to show more respect.
“We believe that Adam has been vilified for calling out racism, for expressing his views on Aboriginal issues, and for celebrating and promoting his proud cultural background,” players association boss Paul Marsh said.
“This is not something for which Adam should be vilified – it is something for which he should be celebrated.”
Swans coach John Longmire said Goodes was sick and tired of booing from opposition fans in several games this season.
“Adam needs a couple of days away from the football club and to take a breath about it,” Longmire said.
Asked if the two-time Brownlow medallist would play against the Crows, Longmire replied: “We’ll just take that as we go.
“We need to make sure that we’re fully supportive of him and wait a day or two and let things settle down and he’ll decide that.
“There’s no pressure on him at all.”
Sydney’s next away game is in two weeks against Geelong.
Swans football manager Tom Harley said his old club had already been in touch with Sydney about how they should handle the issue.