Indigenous AFL great Goodes declines hall of fame invite

Sydney (AFP) –


Australian Rules Football great Adam Goodes has refused induction into the sport's Hall of Fame, the AFL said Tuesday, apologising again to the Indigenous player whose career was marred by racial abuse from fans.

Goodes, who retired in 2015 after 372 matches for the Sydney Swans and twice won the AFL's top Brownlow medal, was voted into the Hall of Fame on the first year of his eligibility.

AFL Commission Chairman Richard Goyder said Goodes had declined the offer, but had not wanted to publicise the decision before the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which was planned for later this month but has been delayed due to a Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne.

"Adam was clear he did not want his decision to detract from the moment for the 2021 inductees," Goyder said.

Goodes did also not publicise the reason for his decision, which Goyder said "we understand and respect".

Goodes was subjected to repeated booing in the months leading up to his retirement -- abuse seen as racially motivated and linked to an incident where he responded angrily to being called an "ape" by a young spectator.

The unhappy end to his football career and subsequent high-profile work promoting Indigenous literacy and rights was the subject of a 2019 documentary, "The Final Quarter".

The AFL issued a formal apology to Goodes in 2019, but Goyder acknowledged Tuesday the gesture "was too late".

"On behalf of our Commission and the AFL, I apologise unreservedly again for our failures during this period," Goyder said.

"The treatment of Adam in his final years at AFL level drove him from football. The AFL and our game did not do enough to stand with him at the time, and call it out."

"We hope that there will be a time in the future when Adam will want to be connected to the game again. This is a decision for Adam and Adam only and we understand and respect his choice," Goyder said.

The AFL is Australia's most popular sport and has a long history of racist incidents targeting Aboriginal and other Indigenous players.

Earlier this year, a damning internal report identified a "toxic" culture of systemic racism at the Collingwood AFL team, one of the country's largest sporting organisations.