South West Football League AFL Community player calls for stronger action on the pitch against racist abuse

A WA footballer is leading calls for tougher penalties and referee powers to end racial abuse on the pitch after he was vilified during a match at Bunbury.

As the AFL celebrates Indigenous contribution to the game with the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, a Noongar player from the South West Football League has spoken after officially reporting an incident during a game against South Bunbury on May 14.

Hayden Yarran, who plays as a striker with Carey Park, said he was subjected to repeated racial slurs from an opponent while a referee was nearby.

“I heard one of the South Bunbury players yelling, ‘Hurry up, yowie, we don’t have all day,'” he said.

“A yowie is like a fit monkey [mythical] bush thing.”

Mr Yarran said he felt his opponent was ‘just calling me a monkey’.

“There are no penalties on the pitch”

He said he initially ignored the taunt, but when it happened again he decided to report it.

“That’s enough,” he said.

“In their regulations, there is no sanction as such for an incident on the pitch as a racial slur.

β€œIt also goes all the way to the AFL level.

“I have a lot of friends in the AFL that I’ve spoken to…and there’s no rule to them. [either].”

AFL Rule 35 covers racist and sexist defamation from player to player and by club officials, such as a coach, in AFL, AFLW and community football.

“It’s also an AFL thing”

Players can be reported and, under Law 23 of the Rules of the Game which applies to association football, a referee can ‘send off’ a player for ‘serious misconduct’.

Mr Yarran said the referee reported the incident to a South West Football League representative during the game.

South West Football League chairman Barry Tate has said official guidelines need to change so that referees have the power to issue on-field penalties for a racial slur.

“I have already emailed the football committee,” he said.

“It’s also an AFL thing.

“This hasn’t been updated since 2013.”

$200 fine for South Bunbury

The racial vilification charge was heard by the league court, which found the South Bunbury club guilty. He was fined $200 and ordered to repeat a seminar on racial libel.

Mr Tate said the seminar was something all clubs in the league should undertake every year.

He said South Bunbury would do it again with a league official, an aboriginal elder and at least 75 per cent of all players present.

“We are very strong on this and we do not tolerate [racism] at all,” Mr. Tate said.

He said racism on the pitch should not be tolerated and he encouraged more players to come forward if they saw or heard it happening.

“He’s still here, unfortunately,” he said.

South Bunbury chairman Leigh Wright said the club would issue a statement on Monday. He declined to comment further.

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