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Ryder responds to racist comments

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 19: Paddy Ryder of the Power sets his players ahead of him during the 2019 AFL round 05 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Port Adelaide Power at Optus Stadium on April 19, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos)
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 19: Paddy Ryder of the Power sets his players ahead of him during the 2019 AFL round 05 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Port Adelaide Power at Optus Stadium on April 19, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos)

PADDY RYDER has labelled racist social media posts targeted at him as an attack on the Aboriginal culture.

A photo of Ryder shared on social media by AFL broadcaster Fox Footy saw two separate racist comments posted on it.

One was by a man identified as a member of the Adelaide Crows, the other is being investigated by the Gold Coast Suns because it appears to be from one of their supporters.

The Crows have moved swiftly, issuing a statement saying they had suspended the man’s membership indefinitely and condemning his actions.

“It’s pretty hurtful. It’s really disappointing that another Aboriginal man is standing up here with this happening to us again,” Ryder said after arriving back in Adelaide from Perth.

“It’s an attack on our culture and on our people but we’re going to keep fighting the fight.

“We’ve got a lot of good people supporting us and the AFL is fully supportive.

“We know it’s not something that we’re going to eradicate overnight so we’ve just got to keep on it and keep educating people and hopefully one day we’ll get there.”

The posts were the latest in a spate over the past few months directed towards indigenous AFL players.

The latest incident surfaced after Ryder had 13 disposals, 19 hitouts and a goal to help the Power to an impressive upset victory over reigning premier West Coast at Optus Stadium on Friday night.

The man is believed to have apologised on social media, blaming being intoxicated for the comment before deleting his account.

Ryder said he would accept the apology, and he asked the man to move forward and educate others.

“It’s all good for us Aboriginal people to stand up in front of you and tell you what’s right and wrong but we need you to stand up for us, call it out, educate people on what’s right and wrong and the quicker we can do that, the better it will be for all of us.

“We don’t want this behaviour going forward so there has to be a consequence.

“Unfortunately for him he gets his membership taken away.”

Port Adelaide’s Aboriginal Programs Director Paul Vandenbergh said it was incredibly frustrating that racism was still prevalent in the game.

But he said the latest incident was another opportunity to continue the discussion and educate non-Aboriginal people.

“It’s an opportunity to talk more widely about us as a nation,” Vandenbergh said.

“We don’t want to walk away from incidents like this. We want to generate a discussion and educate and get them to understand where we’re coming from.

“We’re a pretty resilient culture and we’ve been through a lot.”

He said it was particularly disappointing for Ryder, who was a champion of the game and his culture.

“Paddy was home (in Perth) and had a lot of family there watching on.

“He should be celebrating a win and instead we’re standing here dealing with issues that we shouldn’t be as Australians.

“It’s incredibly frustrating but we’re here united and we want to take non-Aboriginal people on this journey with us and hopefully understand the impact of racism and what impact it has not only on the players but the staff and their families – because we often take it home, where we start to see the downfall of what racism does to us.

Mr Vandenbergh praised the man for owning his actions and invited him to participate in some of the club’s Aboriginal Programs and cultural awareness workshops.

“I think we all make mistakes. He’s owned up to it, that’s a great first step,” he said.

“I think it would be more powerful to educate them, bring them into cultural awareness workshops, to remote communities to give them an understanding of Aboriginal culture and what it really means to us as people and how as Australians we should be celebrating the oldest surviving culture in the world.”

Earlier, Port Adelaide issued a statement condemning racism in any form.

“Racism has no place in the AFL or our society more broadly,” it said.

“It is divisive, hurtful and not welcome.

“Port Adelaide will support Paddy and its Indigenous players in dealing with the impact of this cowardly and ignorant comment, but it is clear that the AFL and its member clubs must remain vigilant in coming together to eradicate this behaviour.

“Paddy and all Indigenous players across our competition deserve so much better.”