Adam Goodes has declined an invitation from the AFL to be inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame, stemming from the way the AFL treated him in his final years in the league.
AFL chair Richard Goyder, who is on the Hall of Fame selection committee, said the two-time Brownlow medallist informed him of his decision earlier in the year but did not want it to go public until after the induction event.
The Hall of Fame induction was scheduled for June 22 but has since been postponed due to the current COVID-19 situation in Victoria.
He says Goodes’ decision has been “made public separately” and not by the AFL.
“Adam was clear he did not want his decision to detract from the moment for the 2021 inductees,” Goyder said.
“The unreserved apology that the game provided him in 2019 was too late, but, on behalf of our Commission and the AFL, I apologise unreservedly again for our failures during this period.
“We hope that there will be a time in the future when Adam will want to be connected to the game again. This is a decision for Adam and Adam only and we understand and respect his choice.”
Goodes faced continuous booing and racist slurs over his final three AFL seasons, which sparked a vicious national debate about racism before his retirement in 2015.
In 2019, a documentary was released compiled entirely of footage of Goodes and the events that preceded his departure.
Ahead of the release of The Final Quarter, the AFL issued a public apology to Goodes on behalf of staff and the clubs for the treatment he received during his time at the AFL.
“Adam, who represents so much that is good and unique about our game, was subject to treatment that drove him from football. The game did not do enough to stand with him, and call it out,” the statement said.
“Failure to call out racism and not standing up for one of our own let down all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, past and present.”
There have been mixed responses to Goodes’ decision to turn down the honour, with many people understanding why the two-time Swans premiership hero wouldn’t want to accept the invitation, and some saying they were taken aback.
— Chelsea Watego (@drcwatego) June 7, 2021
Hall of Fame member and Essendon great Tim Watson said he was surprised by the decision from Goodes.
“We always say time is a great healer, I just thought that the time may have healed all those differences. Clearly, it hasn’t,” Watson said.
“It’s his right, it’s his entitlement not to accept an induction if that’s the way that he feels. I’m saddened by all that though. I’m sad that it cut him so deeply that five years on, he still feels like he doesn’t have a place in AFL football.”
By Teisha Cloos