Racial vilification incidents rock Ballarat football

UPDATE: Darley president Grant Wright says the supporter who racially abused respected Aboriginal elder Ted Lovett at the football will "definitely be suspended" from Devils' matches.

Having met with the club this afternoon, the man involved in the incident admitted to racially abusing Lovett.

Wright said the man, who is related to one of the senior players, wished to personally apologise to Lovett, with a mediation session scheduled during the week.

It is not yet known what punishment will be handed down by the Ballarat Football League, nor the Darley Football Club, but Wright said there would definitely be a club-imposed ban.

"As a club, we are very apologetic to Ted and to all indigenous people for that matter," Wright said.

"We can't accept racism in any way, it's absolutely not what we're about."

Respected Aboriginal elder Ted Lovett at this year's Anzac Day service. Picture: Jeremy Bannister.

Respected Aboriginal elder Ted Lovett at this year's Anzac Day service. Picture: Jeremy Bannister.

TWO racial vilification incidents have rocked Ballarat football during the week indigenous athletes were supposed to be celebrated.

Respected Ballarat Aboriginal elder Ted Lovett was allegedly racially abused at Darley on Saturday, while a 17-year-old Carngham-Linton footballer also claimed he was vilified by a Dunnstown supporter.

Lovett, who was attending the match at Darley Park as a North Ballarat City supporter, says he was the victim of foul language and racial abuse by a Darley fan in a heated exchange after Devils' player Drew Edwards was sent off the field.

The Ballarat Football League will launch an investigation into the incident, with North City notifying the league of what happened.

Lovett said he was deeply hurt by the incident, which showed racism was still very much alive in society.

"I was very put off by the whole thing, I was wild," he said.

"It just goes to show we've got a long way to go in this country.

"I had been speaking to 200 school kids the day before about racism and told them I felt racism was still alive. People might not believe you but incidents like this show it exists."

Lovett attends every North City match, where his grandson, Geoff, is a promising player in the under-18.5s.

North Ballarat City president Peter Carey said the club had asked the BFL to conduct an investigation, but could not comment on the incident while the investigation was taking place.

"If it has happened, it's really, really disappointing," Carey said.

"I'm confident the league and Darley themselves will take the appropriate action though, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth."

Darley president Grant Wright said although he did not witness the incident, he knew who the alleged offender was.

"We're having a full investigation into it ourselves," he said.

"Racism is something that will never be tolerated at our club. Everybody wants the club to be a good place to be and things like this don't help.

"We don't want to be known as a racist club."

Carngham Linton under 17 footballer, Zac McLeod, also alleged he was racially vilified during a match against Dunnstown on Saturday.

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

McLeod said he became involved in a tussle with a Dunnstown player before the 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 presidents from both clubs made the man apologise to Zac after the game.

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 it 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 their 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 is reached.

Dunnstown Football Club did not wish to comment.


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