Under-17s football player racially vilified

AN UNDER 17s footballer has allegedly been racially vilified at a match between Carngham Linton and Dunnstown on Saturday.

Zac McLeod, 17, said he was verbally abused from the grandstand by one male spectator in the second half of the Central Highlands Football League match in Linton.

The alleged racial slur occurred during the AFL Indigenous Round, which celebrates indigenous culture and players. 

McLeod said he became involved in a tussle with a Dunnstown player before the alleged abuse was hurled. 

“I looked at the kid and then looked at the (man in the crowd) and realised that it was the kid’s father,” McLeod said. 

“He looked me right in the eye as he said it.”

McLeod said this wasn’t the first time he had been racially vilified and said Saturday’s incident had wrecked him.

“I’ve put up with it for so long and to hear it on the footy field made me feel sick,” McLeod said. 

“It is pretty shocking.”

McLeod’s mother, Dianne Clark, said the presidents of both clubs had made the man apologise to Zac after the game.

“The whole club was in shock,” Ms Clark said. 

“Our club was very supportive and we felt like we were not on our own.”

McLeod said he didn’t believe the man’s apology was genuine. 

“I didn’t accept it,” he said.

“When he tried to apologise he said he couldn’t tell (I) was Aboriginal.” 

Carngham Linton and Dunnstown players rallied behind McLeod after the game.

“They all got around me, all the players, coaches and presidents,” he said. 

McLeod said the recent efforts to combat racism in sport had been fantastic. 

“There has been a fair bit done and it has been pretty good,” he said. 

Ms Clark said she had not made a formal complaint with the club. 

Carngham Linton president Sam Richardson said the two clubs had made sure the incident was dealt with on the day, with the alleged offender made aware that sideline abuse was completely unacceptable. 

“We dealt with it on the day, and dealt with it, with what we believe, to the satisfaction of the two clubs and the young fellow and his parents,” Mr Richardson said. 

“The offending person was made to apologise directly to the young fellow.”

Mr Richardson also applauded Dunnstown for its support in ensuring the matter was dealt with quickly. 

“Dunnstown, the footy club, was very much a part of it. They made sure this guy was held accountable,” he said.

Central Highlands Football League administrator Diane Ryan said Carngham Linton had reported the matter and, as per the regulations, the club’s complaints officers sought to have an informal resolution.

“At the time of the apology and at subsequent discussions with the victim and his mother, Carngham Linton FNC officials were satisfied that the apology had been accepted,” she said. 

“Subsequent social media postings by the Carngham Linton FNC player indicated that he was also happy with the support from the Carngham Linton FNC in the outcome.”

Ms Ryan said the CHFL would be working with both clubs to ensure the correct outcome was reached.

Dunnstown Football Club did not wish to comment.

kara.irving@fairfaxmedia.com.au

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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