Former Adelaide captain Taylor Walker has been sanctioned by the AFL following a racist comment about Narungga and Ngarrindjeri man and North Adelaide player, Robbie Young. 

The comment was made during a Crows reserves match in the SANFL on July 17 and was reported by a Crows official who overheard Walker make the comment. The official reported the matter to the club who then informed the AFL.

The AFL confirmed on Friday that Walker would be excluded from the Crows next six AFL matches, make a donation of $20,000 to a South Australian Indigenous program, undergo an education program as well as apologise to both Adelaide and North Adelaide players for his conduct.

North Adelaide’s Robbie Young. Photo supplied.

Walker released a statement expressing his remorse and commitment to further educating himself moving forward. 

“There is no excuse or justification for the words I said. They are unacceptable and I take full accountability for that,” Walker said.

“I am deeply ashamed. I did not intend to cause harm, but I know and understand that I have caused deep hurt to the official who reported the matter and to Robbie Young, to both of their families and to the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

“I apologise to all of them and to the Adelaide and North Adelaide Football Clubs.”

Walker asked that the public respect the wishes of the official who reported the matter to not be identified.

“The official who reported this showed courage and leadership in calling out what I said, and I am determined to do what I can to emulate his actions,” he said.

“I want to be an active participant in addressing racism in our game and the wider community. This starts by educating myself so I can influence others and make a positive difference moving forward.

“I know I need to back up my apology with action, and this is my commitment.”

Chair of the Indigenous Players Alliance Des Headland spoke to NIT about the issue and said he is disappointed the comments came from a player who has captained a side that has a history of Indigenous champions. 

“[Walker] has played alongside the Eddie Betts and the Charlie Camerons of the world, and I think those boys would be very disappointed to hear this was what he has done,” Headland said.

“For him to make a racial slur at a game, it shows that there is still plenty more to do to stamp out racism in the AFL world.”

Regarding the official who reported the incident, the former Fremantle great said he takes his hat off to them.

“I think the official showed real quality leadership and courage to actually call that out,” he said.

“It just goes to show that we need more people in the clubland and supporters, members and so forth, that if they hear or see that kind of behaviour that they call it out.”

AFL General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy, Tanya Hosch, said the AFL is no place for racism and that she believes Walker understands the seriousness of the matter.

“Racist actions and behaviours are inexcusable,” Hosch said.

“I have no doubt Mr Walker is remorseful, understands that his comments can trigger trauma and seriously impact the mental health of the individuals, families and communities involved and he has accepted his sanctions.”

Walker’s current contract runs out at the end of next season.

By Teisha Cloos