AFL's Sherman banned over racist abuse - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL's Sherman banned over racist abuse

By Roger Vaughan 27/06/2011 08:05:33 PM Comments (0)

The AFL's fiercely-protected image of racial equality has taken another blow, with Western Bulldogs forward Justin Sherman banned for abusing an opponent.

Gold Coast first-gamer Joel Wilkinson, who is of Nigerian descent, is understood to be the player Sherman racially abused during Saturday's match.

Sherman will serve a four-game AFL suspension, making him the first player in 12 years to be banned for breaching the league's racial and religious vilification policy.

It is the latest dent to the game's long-term focus on fostering racial equality.

Earlier this season, a fan abused Hawthorn star Lance Franklin during a match in Launceston.

Sherman's ban also comes in the same month that another fan was banned from the VFL for abusing North Melbourne player Majak Daw during a match.

Sherman will also donate $5000 to a charity of the Suns' choice and must attend an education program.

The punishment was agreed after AFL-moderated mediation between the players.

It was agreed Sherman can play in the VFL during his ban.

Despite Saturday's incident, AFL operations manager Adrian Anderson remains confident players are heeding the policy.

"It's been a long time, fortunately, since we've had one of these cases and may it be a long time, or ever, before we see one again," Anderson said.

"It does beggar belief that a player in this day and age could racially vilify an opponent and I hope to never see it again.

"Our players understand that there is no place for this in our game and this is a complete aberration."

Officials from the two clubs became aware of the incident soon after Saturday's match.

The AFL launched an investigation on Sunday and Anderson said Sherman deserved some credit for quickly taking responsibility.

Anderson said Wilkinson was "devastated" by the abuse and Sherman shared the sentiment as he had to front a Monday afternoon media conference.

Sherman apologised in a statement and then sat with head bowed as Bulldogs chief executive Simon Garlick took questions.

"I'm extremely ashamed and embarrassed (by) my actions on the weekend, I recognise that what I said was offensive, degrading and very hurtful," Sherman said.

"I realise there is no excuse for my behaviour and the fact is, I should have known better, especially given my close friendships with (teammates) Nathan Djerrkura, Liam Jones and Josh Hill.

"I am devastated and want everyone to know it is completely out of character and will never happen again."

The case is particularly embarrassing for the Bulldogs, who strongly support community programs that foster ethnic diversity.

"It's fair to say it's definitely shocked us an organisation, it's certainly something that came from out of the blue," Garlick said.

He added Sherman had given no reason for the abuse and had not tried to justify his words.

Sherman would have appeared before the tribunal had mediation not settled the matter.

There have been other racial mediation sessions involving AFL players in the past few years, including some that have never become public knowledge.

Then-St Kilda player Peter Everitt was fined $20,000 and stood himself down for four games in 1999 for racially abusing Melbourne's Scott Chisholm.

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