“We must draw a line in the sand on racism at all levels of Australian sport,” says Sport Integrity Australia CEO
Sport Integrity Australia CEO David Sharpe has called for a united approach to combat the rising instances of racial abuse in Australian sport.
Speaking from a Threats to Sport Integrity conference that Sport Integrity Australia is hosting in Brisbane today, Mr Sharpe said we all have a role to call out and protect the culture of Australian sport and to ensure that the sporting arena is a safe place for all.
“Every weekend we witness incredible achievements across Australian sports, from the winning professional teams to the joy produced by the six-year-old participating in a sporting event for the first time,” he said.
“However, on a weekly basis we witness cowards hiding behind a keyboard racially abusing our sporting heroes or people hiding in a sporting crowd yelling racial abuse while three rows deep.”
Mr Sharpe urged sporting fans to call these people out – and draw a line in the sand on behaviour that is unacceptable.
“Fans need to call these people out, we all do. We all need to change the culture of sport by calling out these behaviours,” he said.
“When we hear it, we need to say, 'Mate, you can't say that.' I don't want to see our great champions walk away from sport because of this vile abuse.
“I don't want to see Australian children walk away from the opportunity to participate in sport because these cowards are not brave enough to show their face.”
Sport has a positive impact on Australian culture, he said, and is the fabric that draws us together.
“Let's make these cowards the minority,” Mr Sharpe said. “Fans need to take control of their sports. They need to pledge to remove this from our sports.”
Mr Sharpe said Sport Integrity Australia had implemented a range of policies, such as a confidential reporting hotline, aimed at safeguarding athletes at all levels from racial abuse.
The hotline - 1800 161 361 - has been created for members to share their story about issues they have experienced in sport, which includes wider racial and cultural issues in sport.
The hotline operates from 7am-7pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.