The Essendon Bombers have called out an “appalling” instance of racial abuse directed at forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti over the weekend.
In a statement released Monday, the club said it had attempted to contact a fan who made racist comments about McDonald-Tipungwuti on social media following Essendon’s elimination final loss to the Western Bulldogs.
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The Bombers said their attempts to contact the individual had been ignored.
“Vilification, racial or otherwise, has absolutely no place in our society. This must stop now, and it starts with all of us in calling out this vile behaviour,” the club’s statement read.
“The Essendon Football Club stands in total solidarity with McDonald-Tipungwuti and will continue its fight against racism.
“It has to stop.”
Bulldogs star Cody Weightman was also targeted with “unsavoury comments” on the weekend, which the Bombers condemned in their statement.
Weightman kicked four goals from four free kicks in his side’s 49-point win.
“It is hurtful, unnecessary, and not in the spirit of our great game,” Essendon’s statement read.
On Monday evening, McDonald-Tipungwuti released a statement of his own on Instagram.
“As a society we should never define anyone by the colour of their skin, religion, race, culture or ability. In Australia we are one people and a diverse community that should be galvanising together instead of ripping each other apart,” McDonald-Tipungwuti he wrote.
“My family and I like many others are separated by distance and Covid restrictions which has made this year very difficult for all. We all feel isolated and we should be using our words to unite us in the face of adversity.”
McDonald-Tipungwuti was one of Essendon’s brightest stars earlier in the season as the club outshone pre-season expectations of Ben Rutten’s first year as senior coach.
The star forward missed the club’s final two regular season games as well as its elimination final, citing personal reasons for his absence.
While Essendon may have exited the play-offs in the first round – keeping its finals losing streak alive in the process – the Bomber faithful have reason to be pleased with their side’s 2021 campaign.
After the club lost the likes of Adam Saad, Orazio Fantasia and Joe Daniher at the end of last year, and with a rookie coach at the helm, even the most ardent Bombers fans would’ve been anticipating a long season in 2021.
Instead, coached by a former All-Australian defender, the Bombers flaunted an exciting, attacking brand of footy that helped the side return to the finals.
For their superb individual seasons, Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett were both rewarded with All-Australian selection last week, while Jake Stringer was named in the 40-man squad.
Rutten says while his playing group was disappointed to have lost to the Bulldogs and bowed out of the finals, he was excited by Essendon’s future prospects.
“The amount of work and the spirit that they’ve played with all season has been great,” he said.
“Sometimes you fall a little bit short and you get disappointed but that’s the price we’ve got to be prepared to pay because this group and this club, we’re on a journey.
“We want to achieve something really special.”