Kennett slams AFL racism crackdown idea - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kennett slams AFL racism crackdown idea

By Sam Lienert 13/04/2008 01:45:27 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has criticised a proposal for anti-racism announcements at AFL games, calling it another sign of the influence of "thought police" on the league.

The idea was suggested by Football Victoria chief Peter Schwab, a former Hawks player and coach, who proposed pre-game announcements promoting the message that racism was unacceptable and encouraging crowd members to dob in spectators who racially abused players.

"Now there's going to be some announcement before football matches, I can't believe this is right, telling us all how crowd members should refer to players on the ground, in case there's any racism and bad language," Kennett said at a pre-fame function ahead of the Hawks' clash with Adelaide in Launceston.

"The thought police from the AFL are telling us what we should be thinking during a round of football."

Kennett also outlined to the Tasmanian audience the case against them getting their own club in the AFL, despite the wishes of both their state government and opposition.

He said it was not just a matter of the state being able to support a club financially, which he said cost about $30 million per year, but also the AFL's desire to capture new markets with its plans for teams on the Gold Coast and western Sydney.

"They're looking at putting these new teams in places that will help grow the code over the next 20 or 30 years," Kennett said.

"The Gold Coast has a population similar to Tasmania (about 500,000), projected to grow to 750,000 over the next few years.

"Western Sydney has a population of 1.8 million, substantially more than Tassie, and they are also being challenged by the other football codes.

"That's actually what's driving the AFL, not a lack of respect for Tasmania by any means, but to try to make sure the code not only remains strong but continues to grow."

Kennett said the Hawks' arrangement with Tasmania, under which they play four home matches per season in Launceston and are sponsored by the state government, was continually growing stronger.

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