Eddie Betts racism claim: Adelaide Crows silenced me over hate mail to avoid ‘media circus’

Gillon McLachlan says the AFL integrity unit will investigate Eddie Betts’ allegation that he was silenced by Adelaide over racist hate-mail in 2016.

The AFL integrity unit is set to investigate Eddie Betts’ claims the Adelaide Crows talked him into staying silent publicly during a media conference about a racist letter he received in 2016.

The former AFL great’s recently released autobiography ‘The boy from Boomerang Crescent’ detailed a horrendous letter he received in the mail via the club during the week of Sir Doug Nicholls Round in 2016.

In the book, Betts wrote he was dissuaded from making the letter public during a meeting with Crows bosses ahead of an already scheduled media conference to promote the AFL’s Indigenous round.

“I said to the club, ‘Listen, I really want to take this piece of paper into this press conference and when the journos ask me why the AFL has the Indigenous Round, I want to say ‘this is why’,” Betts wrote.

“I wanted to hold it up and maybe even just walk out — leaving the piece of paper in the press conference.

“Then the club representatives spoke and (my wife) Anna and I listened.

“These days, I would do it without even telling them, because essentially they talked us into not saying anything.

“Upon reflection, they were trying to minimise any type of media circus before my game, but maybe this was more important than the game itself?”

The Crows declined to comment when contacted on Thursday.

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The AFL will investigate Eddie Betts’ allegation he was silenced by the Adelaide Crows after receiving racist hate-mail. Picture: AAP Image
The AFL will investigate Eddie Betts’ allegation he was silenced by the Adelaide Crows after receiving racist hate-mail. Picture: AAP Image

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said on Friday he was unaware of the incident at the time.

“I had no visibility of that and it’s in the paper today and I hadn’t heard of that,” he said on 3AW.

“I’m sure our integrity guys will be looking into that and I’ll follow that up today.”

Betts, in the book, sheds light on the letter that led to the meeting with club bosses.

“It (the letter) carried a picture of me high-fiving Jarryd Lyons on the training track at Adelaide Oval,” Betts wrote.

“In big black Texta right above my head some racist had written the words ‘A.. FA….OT’.

“I sat there speechless for a moment after I’d opened it.

“Then I was like, ‘Yep — again. Here it is again.’”

Betts’ autobiography also detailed the Crows’ now infamous pre-season camp that followed their 2017 grand final loss.

The former Adelaide and Carlton goalsneak said on Fox Footy this week he’d told the AFL “everything” about the camp at the time.

When asked if Betts deserved an apology then, McLachlan said: “I’m not going to comment on the investigation other than it was investigated thoroughly, not only by our integrity team but also by SafeWork SA”.

“And the difference between finding that things are, you know, there’s been frankly just some disgraceful things done as opposed to breaking laws or rules.

“And that is a challenging one to deal with that part.

“In terms of the lack of action, I don’t agree with that either.

“So our response has been to make changes to say ‘now every camp has to be signed off by the AFL to make sure we protect the physical and the mental wellbeing of all the participants.’

“I now have structured regular communications with our indigenous cohort, both male and in recent times female.

“There’s now an indigenous liaison officer at all 18 clubs, so there was a response.”

McLachlan said he felt ‘wounded’ by the hurt caused.

“In terms of the apology, I speak to Eddie regularly and I am wounded when any one of our players, especially senior indigenous people like Eddie in a situation like this, are wounded,” he said,

“I am sorry our broader infrastructure has failed them.”

Betts racism gag: Crows silenced me over hate mail

Eddie Betts has claimed the Adelaide Crows talked him into staying silent during a media conference about a racist letter he received during the week of a Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

The former Carlton and Adelaide great’s recently released autobiography “The boy from Boomerang Crescent” has detailed the Crows’ now infamous pre-season camp that followed their 2017 grand final loss.

In another revelation, Betts also shed light on a horrendous letter he received in the mail via the club in 2016.

Eddie Betts has opened up on a racist letter he received in the mail via the club in 2016.
Eddie Betts has opened up on a racist letter he received in the mail via the club in 2016.

“It (the letter) carried a picture of me high-fiving Jarryd Lyons on the training track at Adelaide Oval,” Betts wrote.

“In big black Texta right above my head some racist had written the words ‘A-- F----T’.

“I sat there speechless for a moment after I’d opened it.

“Then I was like, ‘Yep — again. Here it is again.’”

In the autobiography, Betts said he met with Crows bosses at the time about the letter.

“That week, I was set to do a press conference with the Adelaide media on behalf of the Crows,” he wrote.

Betts says he believes the club was trying to minimise any type of media circus.
Betts says he believes the club was trying to minimise any type of media circus.

“I knew that I should speak up about what I’d gotten in the mail.

“At the same time, I didn’t want to create too much hassle and work for the people around me.

“(My wife) Anna and I had called the club and asked them for a 9am meeting, and I was due to do a presser at 11am after training.

“I didn’t feel like I could mention the letter without at least telling the club what I wanted to do.

“When we walked into the meeting with the club, straight away I was looking at all-white faces.

Betts says he was gutted yet still expected to front the media as if everything was fine.
Betts says he was gutted yet still expected to front the media as if everything was fine.

“I knew that they would not fully understand what I was about to show them — how stuff like this cuts me to the core, and in particular the effect the word ‘a--’ can have.

“I said to the club, ‘Listen, I really want to take this piece of paper into this press conference and when the journos ask me why the AFL has the Indigenous Round, I want to say ‘this is why.’

“I wanted to hold it up and maybe even just walk out — leaving the piece of paper in the press conference.

“Then the club representatives spoke and Anna and I listened.

“These days, I would do it without even telling them, because essentially they talked us into not saying anything.

“Upon reflection, they were trying to minimise any type of media circus before my game, but maybe this was more important than the game itself?”

Betts also opened up on the hurt caused by a Port fan throwing a banana in his direction.
Betts also opened up on the hurt caused by a Port fan throwing a banana in his direction.
Betts has described writing his book as a ‘healing process’, but revealed some sad events.
Betts has described writing his book as a ‘healing process’, but revealed some sad events.

Betts said he fronted the cameras and had to “pretend”.

“I was really hurting,” he wrote.

“I was answering questions about why we celebrate the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, how it highlights our culture and our ways, while that folded piece of paper sat in my pocket.”

The Crows declined to comment when contacted on Thursday.

Betts also detailed in 2016 his reaction to a Port Adelaide fan throwing a banana in his direction during a Showdown clash and how it still affected him.

“Still today, I am extremely embarrassed to touch or eat bananas and every time I do it automatically takes me back to that moment,” he wrote.

“I think it probably always will.”

Originally published as Eddie Betts racism claim: Adelaide Crows silenced me over hate mail to avoid ‘media circus’