MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Adelaide Crows forward Taylor Walker has been suspended for six games and fined A$20,000 ($14,800) after making a racist comment about an Indigenous opponent, the Australian Football League (AFL) said on Friday.
Walker, 31, was investigated by the AFL's integrity unit after making the comment to a team mate about North Adelaide's Robbie Young at a lower league match last month.
Walker's suspension means he will miss the Crows' last three games of the 2021 season and three at the start of 2022. He will also undertake an education programme, including volunteering in community programmes, the AFL said in a statement.
Indigenous Australians account for about 3% of the country's population but about 10% of AFL footballers. The AFL has worked hard to stamp out racism on and off the field but Indigenous players routinely suffer racist abuse on social media https://jp.reuters.com/article/uk-australian-rules-afl-racism-idUKKCN25F090.
Adelaide reported Walker's comment to the AFL after a Crows official overheard it and reported it to the club.
The AFL said Walker had apologised to Young and the official during a "successful" conciliation.
Walker also issued a public apology saying he was 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," he said.
The AFL's inclusion boss Tanya Hosch praised Young and the unnamed Adelaide official for calling it out.
"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," she said.
In February, the long-serving president of the Collingwood Magpies resigned, after an independent review found "systemic" racism within the Melbourne-based AFL club.
The review was conducted belatedly after years of complaints made by Brazil-born former Collingwood defender Heritier Lumumba.
($1 = 1.3504 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Richard Pullin)