An Australian Football League club is apologizing after some of its players caused outrage by putting on blackface to dress up as Venus and Serena Williams, as well as Aliir Aliir, a Sudanese Sydney Swans player.
A photograph of three Tasmanian players from the Penguin Football Club in blackface was posted to social media this week as part of the club’s end-of-season Mad Monday celebration.
The photo sparked immediate outrage on social media, with people calling out the players for racism.
The PFC issued a public apology for the players’ behaviour on Wednesday.
“The Penguin Football Club would like it acknowledged that it is unacceptable in this day and age that three players would consider dressing for a Mad Monday as they did,” the statement read. “It was not their intention to upset anyone and all they meant to do was dress as one of their sporting idols. Their actions were never intended to be racist in any way.”
The statement continued, “The players concerned have acknowledged that what they did was completely and utterly unacceptable and would like to apologize unreservedly for their lack of judgment.
“Sometimes players make mistakes and for that we apologize.”
A spokesperson for AFL Tasmania also responded to the incident, telling SBS, “We don’t condone [blackface] and it isn’t in keeping with our values. We will be working with the league and club to get more information and to see how we can assist in providing education to the players.”
The controversy comes not long after an Australian newspaper, The Herald Sun, came under fire for publishing a caricature of Serena Williams with exaggerated features many felt was racist.