Mixed responses to Adam Goodes’ decision to decline an AFL Hall of Fame invitation has prompted Carlton’s Eddie Betts to speak out in support of the two time Brownlow medalist. 

Goodes recently rejected the AFL’s invitation due to the racial abuse he encountered on and off the field, particularly in his final years before his exit from football. Betts said he understands why Goodes chose to decline the invitation in an appearance on Fox Footy’s AFL 360.

“What happened to Adam throughout his last two years of playing AFL footy and stuff that he copped throughout the organisation and through the general public as well, it does leave a scar,” he said.

“If you haven’t been racially abused, then you don’t know what it feels like, it cuts you deep and obviously it cut Adam really deep and hopefully people out there can respect the decision that Adam doesn’t want to accept that.”

Betts has encountered similar experiences to Goodes, being racially abused throughout his career and repeatedly calling out racist slurs. Betts has shared the impact of what happened during a 2020 incident through the Amazon series Making their Mark. 

Although Goodes is copping backlash from those who believe he should ‘move on’ from what he experienced and accept the Hall of Fame honour, many are backing his decision including footy fans, Betts, and former Swan Tony Armstrong.

Comments made about Goodes’ decision by former AFL great Tim Watson have also come under fire after he said he was shocked that five years isn’t enough time to heal. 

“[I’m surprised] because I would have thought … he’s been retired for five years, I would’ve thought in that five years repatriation had taken place,” Watson said on radio show SEN Breakfast.

“I thought it might have eased on him mentally and he might have been able to repair some of those bridges between himself and the game and feel differently about his time, and then just appreciated all the great things about the game that were delivered to him and that he earned for himself.”

Many have since called out Watson for suggesting it was Goodes’ responsibility to put in the work to repair his relationship with the AFL. Others have defended Goodes on social media, saying people just don’t understand what racial vilification can do to a person. 

By Teisha Cloos