MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Carlton Blues forward Eddie Betts has highlighted the racist abuse he receives on social media after a Twitter user posted a picture of a monkey in reference to the Australian Football League (AFL) player.
Aboriginal Australian footballer Betts, a victim of repeated incidents of online racial vilification in recent years, posted the tweet on his Instagram account.
"If at any time anyone is wondering why we work so hard to bring attention to the importance of stamping out racism, this is it," the 33-year-old wrote.
"If ever there was a time where our focus on this needs to continue more than ever, it’s now."
Outrage over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last month has brought the issue of racism to the fore in Australian Rules football, where Aboriginal players continue to suffer online abuse.
Chad Wingard, an Aboriginal midfielder-forward for Hawthorn Hawks, said last week he would boycott interviews with Australian media as he felt they were not providing balanced coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States.
Other players have turned the focus of anti-racism protests on to Aboriginal deaths in police custody in Australia.
AFL players took a knee before their games to show support for the BLM movement as the competition resumed last week for the first time since being shut down due to COVID-19 in March.
The gestures have not been universally welcomed by fans, however, with some taking to social media to say they would hand back their memberships to clubs.
"Anyone that's asking a question about why we're taking a knee pre-game, or why we're trying to make a difference, or why we're trying to actually do something about it, this is the exact reason why," Carlton co-captain Sam Docherty told reporters on Monday, referring to the abuse targeting Betts.
"To see him vilified like that, it does hurt us."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)