Dipper says he's ashamed - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dipper says he's ashamed

By Roger Vaughan, Sam Lienert and Angela Logan 18/06/2010 06:43:15 PM Comments (0)

Brownlow Medallist Robert DiPierdomenico is "ashamed" and has been stood down as an AFL Auskick ambassador after admitting to a racist slur.

The Hawthorn premiership player was close to tears when he fronted a media conference late on Friday afternoon alongside AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou to publicly apologise.

DiPierdomenico had described fellow Brownlow Medallist Gavin Wanganeen, a Port Adelaide and Essendon premiership player, as "not too bad for an Abo".

The comment was made at a football function in the South Australian town of Hahndorf last week.

DiPierdomenico's admission comes after the furore over a racist remark made by former Richmond player Mal Brown at another football function on Wednesday.

"I've apologised to Gavin Wanganeen personally and also to Michael Long, not just because of the comments I made - they're good friends of mine - and also for the plight of indigenous people," DiPierdomenico said.

"I know I've hurt a lot of people.

"To be stood down from the AFL, I feel ashamed of that, but I know with the work I will do with Michael in the coming weeks, I will be a better person for it."

He added it was a one-off comment.

"It definitely won't come out again - because I've never used those words ever in my life," he said.

DiPierdomenico has been stood down indefinitely as an Auskick ambassador.

His role is a part-time contract worth more than $50,000 a year.

He will undergo an education program and also work with Long, one of the game's most famous indigenous players, to learn more about the indigenous community.

Mr Demetriou was clearly furious about DiPierdomenico's gaffe and said it was only his good record which saved him from the sack.

Mr Demetriou added he did not think DiPierdomenico was a racist.

"Excuses like `it was a mistake' or `I didn't mean what I said, it wasn't my intent' are completely unacceptable," Mr Demetriou said.

"So if you're organising sportsman's nights, if you're going to sportsman's nights to speak, please, please understand that what you say hurts people.

"Start getting into the 21st century about conducting yourselves as normal human beings in a country that actually prides itself on welcoming people."

Over the last week, DiPierdomenico was also in the Northern Territory fishing with Long, as part of a television feature.

DiPierdomenico has been the face of Auskick, the league's national program that introduces children to Australian Rules football.

Speaking at the launch of a review into the human rights of African Australians on Friday, Mr Demetriou said tackling racism in the AFL and the wider community was an ongoing battle.

"It's ironic that we're launching this today on the back of (those) comments," Mr Demetriou said.

Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said the racist comments from the two former AFL players should be a lesson to other public figures.

"Can anybody who is a public figure, who is a role model, who is a leader in this country, please engage your brain before you put your mouth into gear?" he said, also speaking at the launch on Friday.

"You are a public figure and your words have an impact."

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also weighed into the furore, labelling Mal Brown's racist comment earlier this week as "completely unacceptable".

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