Carlton are supporting Vaomua Laloifi after an emotional week came to a head when the Blues lost the last game of their AFLW season and missed the finals.
Laloifi, who was born in Samoa and raised in New Zealand, was racially abused by a supporter at Windy Hill during Carlton’s Round 9 clash with Essendon on October 28. That fan now faces a lifetime ban.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: AFLW set for bumper finals series after thrilling final round.
Analysis, local footy and the biggest moments, Seven and 7plus are the home of footy shows for every fan. Stream them all for free on 7plus >>
The Blues went down to the Bombers and lost again to St Kilda at the weekend, sealing their finals exclusion, after which Laloifi’s teammates rallied around her during an outpouring of emotion.
Jessica Good and Mimi Hall were captured consoling a teary Laloifi as the team walked off following their final match of 2023.
Blockbuster AFLW finals locked in after thrilling final round
Carlton told 7NEWS their player welfare staff are supporting Laloifi, whose tears were a cumulative result of the racial abuse she was subjected to the previous week, the toll it took on her mental health in the week thereafter, and the Blues’ consecutive losses to finish the season.
The club described it as “a big week” for Laloifi.
The 30-year-old wrote the two-word message ‘BE YOU’ to herself on the tape wrapped around her left wrist for the match against St Kilda.
An emotional Vaomua Laloifi of the Blues (centre) is consoled by teammates Jessica Good (left) and Mimi Hill after their loss to St Kilda. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty ImagesAmelia Velardo was also quick to offer her support. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images
In a statement last week, the Blues said the incident occurred during the third quarter of the Round 9 game against Essendon, “where it is understood targeted comments were made directly at Laloifi from a currently unidentified individual in the crowd”.
When the player raised the issue, the Blues immediately contacted the AFL Integrity Unit (AFLIU) representative at the ground.
The AFLIU and Essendon have committed to identifying the perpetrator, with a lifetime ban awaiting the fan.
“The AFL wants to make it clear that there is no place for racism in our game and those who are found to be responsible for vilification at our matches will receive a lifetime ban and are no longer welcome at the footy,” the league said in a statement.“Since the beginning of the 2023 season, the AFL has acted on this and issued 17 lifetime bans for fans who have been found guilty of racial vilification.”
Fans can request a formal review of the ban after five years.
The Blues’ season ended with the loss to the Saints. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Essendon apologised to Laloifi and Carlton, and committed to act.
“Essendon Football Club has been made aware of an incident involving a supporter who racially vilified Carlton AFLW player Vaomua Laloifi during Saturday’s game at Windy Hill,” the Bombers said in a statement.
“The club strongly condemns this behaviour.
“Vilification, racial or otherwise, has absolutely no place in our society.
“We must continue to use our platform as a club to call out this behaviour and make a stand against this hateful and hurtful act.
“The matter has been referred to the AFL’s Integrity Unit. The club will now work to identify the individual with the view to educate and, where possible, apply the appropriate punishments.
“Essendon Football Club sincerely apologises to Laloifi and the Carlton Football Club for this abhorrent behaviour.”
Carlton said Laloifi had “understandably been deeply hurt by the comments”.
“We are shattered as a club that a person we deeply care for in Mua, who brings so much joy and love to so many people, would be subjected to such disgusting behaviour,” chief executive Brian Cook said.
“Such behaviour is not welcome at any level of society, let alone at the football.
“Coming to the football should be a safe and enjoyable place for all, it is not a place for such ignorant and bigoted language.
“Our focus and our energy continues to be on doing everything we possibly can to support Mua during this time, who has been put in a position that no person deserves to experience.”
– With AAP
‘Lucky man’: AFL gun ties the knot in picturesque wedding
Collingwood make extraordinary list call on premiership hero
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your Cookie Settings.