Adam Goodes has been given time off after booing saga.
Adam Goodes has been given time off after booing saga.

Sports researcher labels Goodes treatment 'racial hatred'

THE AFL is facing a "cultural crisis" with the ongoing booing of Sydney Swans veteran Adam Goodes, a sport researcher has warned.

Victorian University researcher Dr Matthew Klugman has labelled the booing "an act of racial hatred", despite the progress indigenous players have made in the AFL over the past 20 years.

"Booing passionately is a longstanding privilege at the heart of the game. Indigenous players are also central to the game and the stories the AFL tells and sells," Dr Klugman said.

"But both cannot go on when so many spectators have turned the art of booing into an act of racial hatred.

"The AFL has a cultural crisis on its hands."

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Goodes, who has become an outspoken advocate for ending racial abuse in sport, has been booed for much of this season whenever he has the ball.

Indigenous NRL player Jonathan Thurston said he would imitate Goodes's "war dance" if the Cowboys scored this weekend, to show his support.

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Dr Klugman co-authored award-winning book Black and Proud that is largely about the iconic 1993 photo of St Kilda player Nicky Winmar pointing to his skin in response to racial taunts.

He said the significant progress the AFL had made since Winmar's stance was at risk.

Dr Klugman said Winmar's gesture led to the AFL introducing an anti-vilification policy, whereas the booing of Goodes had ignited similar national discussion but received little response.

"The booing we're hearing week by week has the same tone, venom and hate that the anti-vilification rule was set up to prevent," he said.

"The AFL cannot afford to let these acts of hate continue unabated. Issues of justice, player safety and legacy are at stake.

"The AFL has thus far failed Goodes and risks damaging the hopes of aspiring indigenous players if the booing continues unabated."