An Australian Rules football fan outed as an online troll responsible for racist abuse of a player has had their club membership suspended for two years.
West Coast Eagles forward Liam Ryan was called a “monkey” on social media after he was accused of striking another player last weekend.
The Australian Football League (AFL) announced late Tuesday they had identified the person responsible for the abuse as a member of Richmond Football Club, who play their home matches at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“The club has immediately suspended the person’s membership for two years, revoking all of their member rights,” said Richmond in a statement on Twitter.
“The comments directed at Liam Ryan are only the latest in what appears to be an increasing number of racist posts appearing on the players, and broader, online platforms,” AFL General Manager for Inclusion Tanya Hosch said in a statement.
Hosch said the league will continue to identify people responsible for posting racist comments online, suspending memberships where needed, as well as reporting trolls to the police.
The individual will be required to complete an Aboriginal cultural awareness program before they can have their membership suspension lifted.
Players and officials have called for people posting derogatory comments to be outed.
“The comments posted by some people on social media are absolutely abhorrent,” West Coast Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett said in a statement.
“The continued use of the term monkey is disgusting and these keyboard cowards must be held to account.”
The abuse came just days after leading AFL women’s player Tayla Harris slammed online trolling of a photograph of her kicking a goal as “sexual abuse”.
She lashed out after the athletic image of her playing for the Carlton Blues attracted a series of derogatory comments on social media, with her stance winning widespread support.
Australian Rules football, the country’s biggest spectator sport, has been blighted by racism in the past.
In 2017, a fan accused of racially abusing indigenous player Eddie Betts was banned. The same player also had a banana thrown at him.
Adam Goodes, one of Australia’s most high-profile indigenous sportsmen, retired from Aussie Rules in 2015 after he was subject to repeated booing.