The AFL has banned a Richmond fan for two years for a racist online comment directed towards West Coast Eagles player Liam Ryan.
The sport's governing body stepped in after outrageous comments appeared on social media and then the outrage over it went viral.
Tanya Hosch, AFL General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy, vowed that the AFL will act against online racism following the conclusion of the AFL Integrity Unit's investigation today.
“The comments directed at Liam Ryan are only the latest in what appears to be an increasing number of racist posts appearing on the players, and broader, online platforms,” Hosch said.
“The AFL took action regarding on-field racism over 20 years ago, we take action at our stadiums and grounds, but we are now facing vicious commentary appearing on players' own accounts, and industry platforms.”
Hosch said the AFL Integrity Unit will continue to identify people responsible for racist comments, and if the person is a club member, work with clubs to suspend memberships from those responsible.
And she warned the AFL may also report some to the police for investigation and further action.
The person responsible for the racist online comments directed towards Liam Ryan will be required to take part in an Aboriginal cultural awareness and education program before their membership suspension is lifted in March 2021.
“Where the AFL can take action, we will,” Hosch said.
“However, we also know that social media platforms invite commentary and feedback, and the anonymous nature of the commentary allows for the worst aspects of the community to get a voice.
“We have to continue to fight racism by shining a light where and when it happens, by standing with the person vilified and attacked, and by ongoing investment in anti-racism education, communications and campaigns.
“We also need to remember there are people without the profiles and status of some of the AFL’s best players, who also experience racism every day and we know our players feel concern for this issue more generally, not just how it impacts them and their families."
A spokesman for Richmond added: "Racial vilification has no place in our game, and no place in our society, and the club will continue to take strong measures to ensure there is zero tolerance to this behaviour."