Justin Sherman made several racial slurs against first gamer Joel Wilkinson of the AFL’s newest club, the Gold Coast Suns, and received four weeks as a penalty. However, and this is a big however – Sherman (Western Bulldogs) is able to play in the VFL during the ban handed down from the AFL. Sherman will also be made to attend an education program and donate $5k to a charity stipulated by the Suns.
From all reports, the two players have since spoken, ‘shaken hands’ and an apology accepted. According to AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson, the comments that were conveyed to the young Wilkinson were “bad enough” to hit deep. In today’s game, there is no room for racial slurs to still be existent and the AFL, in addition to all sports both at professional and amateur level, need to stamp this out all-together. Anderson further mentioned that he is confident players in general wholeheartedly understand and support the leagues stance against racism. Again I point out that Sherman only received a four-week punishment from the AFL.
For an organisation that says it is serious about embracing persons from different backgrounds and cultures and that racial taunts are not tolerated, the ban is an absolute joke. It was only a few weeks ago that Kangaroos player and Sudanese-born rookie Madjak Daw was racially abused whilst playing for affiliate team, Werribee. A Port Melbourne supporter was subsequently evicted from the ground by police officers. Paul Slattery, the coach of VFL side Werribee, was disgusted by the man’s actions. Slattery said “I would have thought we’re more advanced in this day and age than to be verbally abusing players in that manner.”
For such a serious violation and pathetic act, the penalty in this instance does not match the crime – the VFL and the Western Bulldogs should not allow Sherman to play, perhaps this may hit harder when he next takes to the playing field.