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Friday, March 03, 2006

Racist Remarks Shame AFL Club

It seems we spoke too soon in earlier praising the West Coast Eagles for their handling of uncontrollable spoilt brat Ben Cousins' Marathon Man flight from justice. Their response to this week's "yet another footballer assaulting his girlfriend" case is, sadly, highly racist.

Hot on the heals of some frank remarks and positive actions by senior officials with the Weagles over the Ben Cousins booze bus incident, it seems we were too quick to recognise and reward. The response to the Ashley Sampi knife-threat incident shows a disappointing return to form for an AFL club that was meant to be showing others the way. But first, the breaking scandal itself. Here's how it was reported earlier in the week:

West Coast Eagles forward Ashley Sampi is wanted for questioning over allegedly threatening his girlfriend with a knife.

Two women told West Australian detectives on Tuesday Sampi had threatened one of them with a knife on Monday night, the Seven Network reported.

The West Australian AFL club confirmed it was aware police wished to interview Sampi regarding a domestic incident with his girlfriend.

But the West Coast Eagles would not give further details of the incident. (Seven News, 28/02/06)

Fair enough - a straight up account of another bloody footballer throwing his weight around, threatening people and generally being a violent thug. Admittedly, this case involves a potentially life-threatening weapon - a knife. Just a few weeks ago we covered the Melbourne Magistrates Court (AFL Division) dealings with Demon's golden boy Colin Sylvia allegedly kicking his girlfriend. While it may be too harsh saying that AFL player domestic violence happens all the time, it's certainly a regular enough occurrence that all the clubs' PR flaks would have a well-thumbed manila folder with "In Case of Player Attacking Wife/Girlfriend" written on it. West Coast's spin doctors would have at least as much experience with handling this sort of thing as any other club. Instead, what we got was this piece of rubbish:

"It is a sensitive personal indigenous situation which the club has been assisting, and will continue to assist, through counselling," the club said in a statement.

"The club will make no further statement regarding the matter." (Seven News, 28/02/06)

Did you spot it? That's right, the totally racist and pandering inclusion of the word "indigenous". Racism is still alive within the AFL, despite it's much-lauded campaigns to eradicate this from the game. No doubt a brief statement like this was pored over by a number of club advisers, experts and officials. Therefore, this word was not an off-hand or casual remark; it's a calculated and contrived piece of spin-doctoring for which I hope the wider community condemns the club.

Let's analyse the calculation the club made. First of all, if they'd released the statement without the word "indigenous", most readers would have thought "Oh, another bloody dickhead footballer has stuffed up. Look at that - the violent angry knob in question is from West Coast. Again! What's up with that club? Do they attract the bad ones or do they go bad under toxic management?" This is clearly a reaction the club would like to avoid. In order to deflect such sentiments, they slyly paint it as not a West Coast Eagles problem, but an indigenous situation. Presumably, the intent is to induce a reaction of "bloody Abos, fighting with knives again" instead. (Let's face it, the club's wily supposition that your average AFL supporter is not going to get passed their inherent racism is well-founded.) Why else would they mention that the knife-wielding offender is indigenous? This disgraceful, sickening and disgusting behaviour is symptomatic of a desperate leadership under siege. I can only hope that they are called to account for their decision and community leaders call them on it.

That said, we should not lose sight of the behaviour of one Ashley Sampi in all this. Here's a large, well-paid, famous young man who feels the need to threaten women with a knife. He's pleaded guilty to one count of this today in Perth's Magistrate Court. (Unlike Melbourne they don't have an AFL Division, so he's appearing in a regular court.)

West Coast Eagles forward Ashley Sampi has pleaded guilty to assault and weapons charges after threatening his girlfriend's sister with a knife.

The 22-year-old AFL footballer was charged with common assault and carrying a weapon with intent to cause fear after a domestic argument on Monday involving his girlfriend and her sister.

Police alleged that around 8pm (WST) on Monday, Sampi verbally threatened his girlfriend's 22-year-old sister and pointed a knife at her.

Sampi, supported by an entourage which included his girlfriend, appeared in Perth Magistrates Court for a hearing before magistrate Doug Jones.

But Mr Jones said he could not hear the matter after Sampi's lawyer Peter Momber said the footballer was pleading guilty to the charges.

The matter was moved into a neighbouring court where Mr Momber told Magistrate Barbara Lane his client pleaded guilty.(The Age, 3/3/2006)

Note that, just like the Colin Sylvia case, the girlfriend is sticking by her man. Given the original reports involved statements by two women, but only one is standing up in court, it's fair to say this has probably caused problems between the sisters. Violence between a couple in a relationship is complex and I'm sure further remarks here won't help.

So, to re-iterate, this is not an "indigenous situation" - this is a "stupid thuggish Aussie Rules professional footballer situation". Any attempts to deflect it from this - even to protect commercial interests like sponsorship deals - is a racist act and must be seen as such. Shame on you, West Coast, shame!

*** UPDATE ***

Ashley Sampi's AFL career seems over now that he's declined to attempt a fitness test. This is the second West Coast Eagles player this month to be delisted for refusing to attempt a test that could reveal an ongoing problem with what he puts in his body. Fortunately for Sampi, we're only talking about pies, not crystal meth. Now Sampi will try secure a berth in another club. Perhaps Ricky Nixon can offer a two-for-one deal?

Citations: Seven News, 28/02/06; The Age, 3/3/2006

Word Count: 973

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  • What a whinger/loser, get a life man! Why are you so against footballers anyway? Remember Jealousy Killed the cat! Ha-ha
    BTW I know it's actully curiosity but jealousy fits you better.

    By Blogger Lou77, at 4:31 pm, March 10, 2006  

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  • In answer to your question ... I'm against over-paid, drug-abusing rapists in general, especially when most people hold them up as heroes and role-models.

    People like this can be found throughout society, but they seem to be concentrated in the ranks of professional footballers.

    Your blog profile suggests you're an 18 year-old female Australian - with a naive view of AFL players. Please be careful; drink-spiking and rapes happen regularly. This blog has chronicled many such incidents over the past 12 months.

    By Blogger Greg, at 6:37 pm, March 10, 2006  

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  • Now that specific details have been released, I think you'll find that this issue is, indeed, one of indigenous provenance- validating West Coast's press release and integrity; not to mention Sampi's good name.

    I implore you to be lucid of how you present your posts. There's enough misinformation besieging us in the professional media as it is. Not all AFLers are dissolute oafs. And not all need suffer because of their contemporaries' mindless bloopers.

    By Anonymous Mark S., at 9:38 pm, March 17, 2006  

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  • Hi Mark,

    Care to string together a sentence or two about which details vindicate the racialisation of Sampi's crimes? You know, some facts that make us go "oh, right, it was an 'indigious situation'. The club was right to paint it in that light."

    Or is that secret footballers' business?

    By Blogger Greg, at 1:44 pm, March 21, 2006  

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  • i wish i saw this sight earlier and commented as now its not goining to matter but ash is my best friend and has been for 7 years - before he played afl. Christina Taylor is the girl in question his now ex girlfriend and if you new the truth behind it you would all feel ashamed. She stabbed him abused him physically and mentally assulted him lied to him and worst of all did her best to get pregnant - lying aout contraceptiion. So id like to post a message to everyone out there who wants to be an afl footballer - look out for money grabbing lying sneaky bitches. just because your an afl footballer dosnt mean you are not going to get physco fuckersin your life. I say shame on you all for believing the fucking media (which is racist mind you an would assume that the aboriginal boy stabs his girlfriend without actually looking into the situation!!)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:29 pm, April 10, 2007  

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  • Hey,
    like anonymous before me I too have known Ashley for many years. My son and him have played many games against one another in their junior footy years and I know that he has been on the rough end of the stick. Media has a lot to answer for..Eg on the Easter break Ashley flew to Broome because a family member had passed away..Now the Sunday times in Perth first stated that it was a family member and that he was attending his funeral and then in the same article they said it was his best friend.. Well it was a family member and Ashley went to pay his respects to the family..This is an important time to indigenous families.. Ashley was a victim of this young lady.. She now has a daughter to him and you can bet she will use this to her best advantage..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:26 am, April 17, 2007  

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  • Takes two to make a kid, ask your parents, C-O-N-T-R-A-C-E-P-T-I-O-N, it's a big word but if you don't wan't a child with your partner then it is essential, unless your partner is the same sex of course.

    Of course the media has a lot to answer for, they've been ignoring these types of incidents to protect the golden calf for a looooooong time, now the number of incidents is overwhelming and players aren't able to hide under the skirts of the media that once went out of their way to protect them.

    Seems this crim knows a few anonymous people who defend him. I wonder how they'd feel if I pulled a knife on their mothers, sisters or daughters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:08 pm, April 17, 2007  

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  • I can't say I'm shocked that there's such uncritical support of Ashley Sampi.

    It's that same damn problem where people confuse talent with virtue. Someone can be a good player, without being a good man.

    Just because someone vaguely knew someone else a while ago, they can dismiss police investigations, media coverage and legal processes without any basis?

    If only we were all massively wealthy footballers worshipped by an isolated citizenry with a small-town mentality.

    It seems the prejudice that insists on rose-tinted glasses for the footballer necessitates the demonisation of his victim. Nasty.

    I do wonder: are these one-sided anonymous comments really a "grassroots" movement to restore Sampi's image. Or is it an orchestrated astroturf movement by media-savvy interests?

    The spelling and grammar on some comments are awfully good for football fans ...

    By Blogger Greg, at 2:30 pm, April 17, 2007  

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  • I am also a friend of ash, and have been since high school and still am. The things people have written about him really disappoint me. If only you could take a look at his body to see the scars which now dominate his skin. Scars which are from his ex girlfriend, who physically and mentally abused him. Next time you see him wonder why there is a large scar under his eye???

    Greg wrote that someone can be a good footballer without being a good man. Greg clearly you do not know ashley sampi so do not comment on the integrity of my friend.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:17 am, May 04, 2007  

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  • More character testimony for this convicted thug.

    Look, it's sad if Sampi has been the victim of violence himself, but that doesn't excuse threatening people with knives. That's why we have a legal system and avenues are open for Sampi as they are for his ex-girlfriend.

    The bald fact is that Ashley Sampi pleaded guilty to these crimes and was duly convicted.

    My original point - that the spin doctors at his club should be shamed for spinning this as an "indigenous situation" - stands and seems to have largely gone unnoticed.

    My subsequent point - that just because someone is good at footy doesn't make them a good person - was in response to all the thoroughly unwarranted "but I know him too!" remarks and character assassination of his ex-girlfriend from his supporters.

    By Blogger Greg, at 1:38 am, May 04, 2007  

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  • Greg

    I actually found this page by complete accident. I am not part of any West Coast propaganda machine (in fact, quite the opposite - I lost a lot of respect for the West Coast management during Ashley's troubles and will never regain it), nor a member of Western Australia's ill-informed media.
    I have know Ashley closely for the past 8 years and completely agree that on paper his record does not look rosey (to say the least). However, I don't think you fully appreciate domestic violence, especially where there is an AFL footballer involved and he is NOT the perpetrator. Primarily, it involves mental and emotional abuse and sadly this knife incident occurred at the peak of the abuse, resulting in Ashley taking the fall for something he didn't do.

    I must reiterate that Ashley Sampi is a kind and gentle sole who found himself in an unimaginable situation, isolated from his family and friends and abused.

    In answering why all Ashley's supporters remain anonymous, it is because we are all professionals (doctors, lawyers) and could not be in the media spotlight (unlike Ms Taylor, unemployed and sadly desperate). Further, those of us who know Ms Taylor are fearful of her (some of us even having active violence restraining orders against her).

    Should you think that there is unfair character assassination of Ms Taylor on this website or any other outlet, please take the time to obtain court documents where a violence restraining order exists against her (there is more than one) or where she was 'involved' in any other criminal offences.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:14 pm, May 23, 2007  

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  • What the hell is going on here? Is Ashley Sampi running for Federal Parliament? Or Pope?

    I find it completely incredible (as in, not to be believed) that "professionals (doctors, lawyers)" would engage in this kind of publicity campaign, besmirching a victim of domestic violence on some random footy blog like this.

    Unless - are you a PR professional? That at least would make sense, and explain why you speak on behalf of other commentors. Not to mention the spate of properly spelled comments on this topic.

    When you claim that Sampi took "the fall for something he didn't do", are you aware that he was found guilty in a court of law - after pleading guilty? If you "know" something pertinent to the case of which the court was unaware, take it up with Sampi's lawyers.

    I'm not saying that Sampi has not been a victim (see above). It is not uncommon for parties to be both perpertrators and victims in these situations, and for there to be mutual intervention orders (or AVOs or equivalent) in force. If that's the case here - so what?

    Similarly, the victim's employment situation is neither here nor there. I do not think it appropriate for me to dig up court records about any civil or criminal matters pertaining to victims of footballers' crimes. Footballers have enough lawyers and publicists backing their corner without needing my efforts to denigrate further their victims.

    I note for the benefit of other readers that approximately 20 minutes before this comment was added, someone hit this page via Google searching for "ashley sampi girlfriend". Was it this commentor? Probably. If so, was it "found by complete accident"? Hardly.

    Something very fishy is happening with all these messages. Don't be surprised to see Sampi pop up on Dancing With The Stars ...

    By Blogger Greg, at 5:35 pm, May 23, 2007  

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  • Greg, I've seen some astroturfing in my life, but this is pretty full-on.

    Possibly even some serious sockpuppteering.

    Have you got a fix on the IP addresses of these "commenters"? Any similarities, hmm?

    By Blogger Dikkii, at 12:11 am, May 24, 2007  

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  • It's all very suss.

    One of my footy sources mooted that Sampi is about to be traded and that this could be a kind of "buttering up" to allay the (legitimate) concerns of nervous East coast buyers that he'll flame out like Gardiner or Cousins.

    Sort of "Sure, Sampi's had his off-field discipline and legal problems. But it's all to do with bad influences and his ex. Don't worry though; once he's safely settled in <insert city> he'll be right as rain. Now, just sign here ..."

    I did a trace on the IP and it seemed to be a private customer, not a corporate firewall.

    Maybe I will start logging these IP addresses - it would certainly be Big News if it turns out his club has engaged publicists to talk him up on blogs!

    By Blogger Greg, at 12:34 am, May 24, 2007  

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  • Greg

    Obviously you have never had a friend (as all can tell by your pathetic obsession with AFL footballers and unhealthy tracing of this site). You don't seem to realise that friends stick up for friends, not PR consultants. That is why I am on this ridiculous website. I am on this 'random' football blog to stop people like you persecuting people they have never meet before.

    Say what you like, read whatever you want into this, just let me say (for my conscience only) I am defending a good person, not an AFL football player.

    I find this very sad that I am spending time on this site, like yourself - who appears to have no life of their own. I will never add to this page again as I have a life, and sometimes you just need to realise that people are idiots.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:04 pm, May 24, 2007  

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  • Hey Greg,

    You can see from comments like this one that the article itself isn't being read.

    The way I read it, and correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the thrust of the article the criticism of the Eagles and the media over what was some pretty racist PR?

    By and large, Sampi's thuggery was hardly even mentioned, and then only towards the end. And of course you had to condemn that.

    Maybe the flacks have had their arses kicked and are out to exact rectitude.

    By Blogger Dikkii, at 7:22 pm, May 24, 2007  

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  • Yep, got it in one, Dikki. It was primarily criticism of the club for trying to mitigate the fall-out by labelling it "an indigenous situation".

    Honestly, you'd think that real friends of Sampi would be more pissed off about his employer pandering to latent racism than reporting the facts of his crime.

    By Blogger Greg, at 9:38 pm, May 24, 2007  

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