Racism in Australian sport: a serial issue

Former NRL player Hazem El Masri speaks with Hatch's Mariam Sarhan.

Australia is made up of people from many diverse backgrounds, but racism has long been an issue that has reared its head.

And increasingly those on the receiving end are speaking up about it to force a change in behaviour on the field and off it. 

Recently AFL player Heritier Lumumba claimed to be the victim of racism by AFL players and employees at Collingwood. He was allegedly nicknamed ‘Chimp’ by other players.

He is by no means the first player to be the victim of racism. Former AFL player, Nicky Winmar had been racially abused his whole career by spectators when in 1993 he took to the field, lifted his shirt, pointed to his skin and said “I’m black and I’m proud.”

Former NRL player, Hazem El Masri is a Lebanese-born Australian and a devout Muslim. El Masri says he has also experienced racial remarks during his time in the NRL. However, he always conducted himself in a professional manner.   

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“There’s always going to be someone that says the inappropriate thing, but for me, I’ve always conducted myself as a professional,” he told Hatch.

Former NRL player, Joe Williams, is an Aboriginal man who has also dealt with racism in his time on the field. Williams says that what is shown in the media also plays a huge impact on peoples perceptions and judgements.

“There are so many people with misconstrued ideas of who we are and what we’re about,” he told Hatch.

“When people see different they get scared of it because it’s not the norm to them and then make judgements on what they see.”

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