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Eagles reach out to Walters following fan abuse

Andrew Mathieson -

West Coast has reached out to Fremantle crosstown rival Michael Walters in an act of solidarity and support against one of the club’s own Eagles fans.

The incident between a player and an opposition supporter after the match is currently the subject of both an AFL investigation, but also of a separate review from Optus Stadium ground managers concerning crowd behaviour.

West Coast administration has said that “the club fully supports that (AFL) enquiry.”

An aggressive spectator at last Saturday’s western derby verbally allegedly abused Walters on his way off the ground at the conclusion of the Eagles’ unexpected 37-point win.

The reported abuse against Walters, a proud Noongar man, was said to be “abusive and loud”, according to initial reports, but the remarks were not of a racist nature.

West Coast felt obliged to come out and issue a public statement on Tuesday night.

“The West Coast Eagles are aware and extremely disappointed regarding an incident after last weekend’s RAC Derby where a spectator made crude and offensive remarks to Fremantle forward Michael Walters as he was leaving the field of play,” the Eagles said in the statement.

“The club has reached out to support Michael Walters and are strong in our position that all players should not be exposed to abusive and anti-social behaviour.

“This type of behaviour has no place in our game, and players and club staff are entitled to operate in a safe environment and should be treated with due respect.”

In the three days since the match, Fremantle are yet to comment about the incident publicly.

Walters was on the receiving end of the spray in the aftermath of star Eagles defender Tom Barrass later being reported for a dangerous tackle on the 33-year-old veteran.

Barrass has been offered a one-game suspension as a consequence.

In a time-honoured traditions of physical derbies dating back to the first in 1995, a number of scuffles broke out between the teams as emotions were highly charged.

Walters has been the subject of racial abuse in recent years since debuting for the Dockers way back in 2009.

But the disrespect has come from electronic devices rather than just behind the fence.

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