AFL legend Adam Goodes has knocked back one of the football code’s most prestigious accolades after the end of his illustrious career was marred by racism.
The 2014 Australian of the Year was a unanimous first-year committee selection to be inducted in the AFL Hall of Fame, which is eligible to former champions retired for at least five years.
The dual Brownlow Medal winner and Sydney Swans premiership star has since told AFL officials he won’t accept the invitation, the Herald Sun reported.
Goodes’ snub comes after he was subjected to relentless racial abuse in the final 18 months of his 372-game career.
Sydney Swans legend Adams Goodes (pictured with wife Natalie) has rejected an invitation to be be inducted AFL Hall of Fame
Goodes distanced himself from the sport after hanging up the boots and turned down an offer to be part of the lap of honour for retired players around the MCG on grand final day.
He has remained out of the limelight since and friends claim Goodes doesn’t even attend Swans matches or watch his former club on television.
Rival fans booed Goodes for 17 consecutive games in 2015, which forced him to take leave from the game and retired just weeks later.
Two years earlier, Goodes made headlines when he became an outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights after standing up to relentless crowd abuse in 2013.
The indigenous AFL star had been standing near the boundary during the dying stages of a match against Collingwood at the MCG when he heard a teenage girl in the crowd yell over the fence: ‘Goodes, you’re an ape’.
Then-Collingwood president president Eddie McGuire apologised to Goodes after the match but joked on his breakfast radio show five days later that the Swans star should be used to promote the musical King Kong in Melbourne.
The final few seasons of Adam Goodes’ career were marred by racial abuse. He’s pictured pointing out a young Collingwood fan at a game in 2013
AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder said he ‘understands and respects’ Goodes’ decision and admitted the code had let him down.
‘Adam remains a great champion and leader of our game who has given more to our sport than he received in return,’ Goyder said in a statement
‘The treatment of Adam in his final years at AFL level drove him from football. The AFL and our game did not do enough to stand with him at the time, and call it out.
‘The unreserved apology that the game provided him in 2019 was too late, but, on behalf of our Commission and the AFL, I apologise unreservedly again for our failures during this period.
‘Failure to call out racism and not standing up for Adam let down all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, past and present.
‘We hope that there will be a time in the future when Adam will want to be connected to the game again. This is a decision for Adam and Adam only and we understand and respect his choice,
Goodes’ Hall of Fame snub has divided fans on social media.
‘If you still don’t understand why he’d turn down this honour then you haven’t bothered to pay attention. The AFL failed Adam Goodes, and he is absolutely right to turn them down,’ one fan commented.
Another added: ‘Good on him. Adam Goodes is a great Australian. The racist abuse that he endured in the AFL is a national disgrace. I admire him and wish him all the very very best’.
However some critics believed turning down the offer was Goodes’ loss.
Former AFL players Tim Watson and Garry Lyon were shocked Goodes declined the offer.
‘The damage that occurred at that time, I thought it might have eased on him mentally and he might have been able to repair some of those bridges between himself and the game and feel differently about his time and then just appreciated all the great things about the game that were delivered to him, that he earned for himself,’ Watson told SEN Breakfast on Tuesday.
‘We always say time is a great healer, I just thought that the time may have healed all those differences. Clearly, it hasn’t.’
Rival fans booed Goodes for 17 consecutive games in 2015, which forced him to take leave from the game and retired just weeks later. Pictured is a Collingwood fan booing Goodes in 2015
Co-host Lyon added: ‘You can only understand if you were able to speak to Adam personally … I’m really disappointed, not in him but for him that in his mindset he still doesn’t feel like he can receive the adulation that he deserves as a footballer.
Two documentaries later documented Goodes’ final three years in the sport, prompting the AFL to issue a formal apology in 2019.
‘The treatment of Adam challenges us, and our right to be considered Australia’s indigenous football code,’ the statement read.
‘Adam, who represents so much that is good and unique about our game, was subject to treatment that drove him from football. The game did not do enough to stand with him, and call it out.
‘We apologise unreservedly for our failures during this period.’
It’s understood the Sydney Swans great doesn’t even watch his old club play