Three members of an Tasmanian amateur league football team have been criticised after painting their faces and bodies black while impersonating famous black sports stars.
Penguin Football Club players Mitch Stanley and Matt Chamberlain – dressed as tennis superstar sisters, Serena and Venus Williams while Beau Grundy dressed as Sydney Swans player Aliir Aliir.
The deeply offensive costumes were reportedly part of their team’s Mad Monday trip to Rocky Cape Tavern. Mad Monday reportedly marks the traditional end-of-season celebrations for Australian football players.
A picture of the three Penguin Football Club players posing together in blackface was uploaded to a popular Mad Monday Facebook group, where it was viewed and shared by many horrified members.
Penguin Football Club have now released a statement apologising for the behaviour of their players, describing their choice of costume as being ‘unacceptable’:
The Penguin Football Club were not aware that three of our players intended to dress in this manner and the incident did not happen at our facilities,
The Penguin Football Club would like it acknowledged that it is unacceptable in this day and age that three players would consider dressing for a Mad Monday as they did.
It was not their intention to upset anyone and all they meant to do was dress as one of their sporting idols. Their actions were never intended to be racist in any way.
The statement continued:
The statement added that the players have been reprimanded and will be given support to make sure they understand that their behaviour was “racist and hurtful”.
The players concerned have acknowledged that what they did was completely and utterly unacceptable and would like to apologise unreservedly for their lack of judgement.
Sometimes players make mistakes and for that we apologise.
If you can't figure out how to wear a costume tributing someone of a different race without painting your skin, your costume is trash, you have no imagination and you should be something else. #blackface #dontdoit
— Leslie Streeter (@LeslieStreeter) September 19, 2018
Not understanding #blackface or not agreeing against it isn't a good enough excuse anymore.
But to save yaself some "harassment" from the "overly-sensitive", just choose another costume. Simple.
Try blue-facing & go as a smurf.
— Gavin Ingham (@Gavin_Ingham) September 19, 2018
As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, Tasmania state’s Australian Football League organisation AFL Tasmania have made the following statement:
It is not acceptable behaviour and we vehemently disapprove of it.
We will be working with the league and club to get more information and to see how we can assist in providing education for the players.
This sort of racist behaviour is offensive to most reasonable people.
There are more and more immigrants coming to Australia, to start a new life. They see this sort of behaviour and wonder what they’ve migrated to.
How many young Aboriginal players would want to go now to the Penguin Football Club or be part of the NWFL if this is the sort of attitude that is allowed to happen?
How the hell is this still a thing?! In 2018 you can NOT claim ignorance. This is blatant INSENSITIVITY, ENTITLEMENT & #RACISM. Shame on them. The Penguin Football Club & league needs to denounce this strongly & heavily. Enough. 🤬🤬🤬#SkinColourInNotACostume #Tasmania #NWFL
— Ooh Lah Lah (@oohlahlah09) September 19, 2018
Unfortunately, this is not the only recent incident of blackface in Australia. Back in 2017, model Sophie Applegarth came under fire after uploading photos of herself and a friend to Instagram wearing blackface while impersonating Venus and Serena Williams. She later denied having any ‘racist or malicious intent’.
It is truly terrible how in this day and age people still need to be educated about why blackface is completely unacceptable.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.