Eddie McGuire, Adam Goodes and ‘apes’: a landmark moment in Australian race relations

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire’s week has seen him go from – to use the American sporting vernacular – hero to zero.

Having been lauded for his response to a young female Collingwood supporter calling Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes an “ape” over the fence, McGuire then suggested on his breakfast radio show that Goodes could be involved in the promotion of the musical King Kong, sparking outrage from Goodes and many others in the media and sporting worlds.

The debate over whether McGuire is racist or not can never be satisfactorily answered, as there is evidence to support both sides. But his King Kong comments do throw into clear relief the existence of a culture within the particular subset of society that is the football media where casual racism is acceptable, even funny.

In turn, given Australian Rules football is the most popular sport in the land, and McGuire one of the best known personalities, what does this tell us about wider Australian society’s approach to “jokes” involving race?

In February 2005, Cameroonian soccer player Samuel Eto’o was playing for Barcelona against Real Zaragoza in Spain. When he went near the ball the Zaragoza crowd called him a monkey. Eto’o protested and refused to play. After some persuading from his teammates he continued. But his stance affirmed that monkey taunts and racism had no place in sport. See the complete article here.

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