‘Champion’: AFL boss breaks silence on Adam Goodes saga

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has commented on Adam Goodes’ decision to knock back his inclusion into the Hall of Fame, saying he hopes “time heals” the Sydney Swans great’s relationship with the game.

The football community was saddened earlier this week when it was revealed Goodes had rejected the offer for the AFL’s highest honour.

The 41-year-old recently became eligible for the Hall of Fame, having been retired for five years.

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“It’s a decision for Adam and Adam only, and we understand and respect his choice,” McLachlan told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“I don’t say this lightly — he’s a champion of the game and a leader who gave a hell of a lot.

“I think everyone hopes there’s a time in the future when he wants to be connected to the game again but it’s got to be when he’s ready.

“I certainly understand that he’s not and certainly understand it’s going to take some time.

“But hopefully time heals.”

The AFL chief executive added he hadn’t been in touch with Goodes about his decision to decline the Hall of Fame honour.

“I’ve certainly spoken to him in recent years, I haven’t spoken to him this year,” McLachan said.

AFL boss Gill McLachlan hopes “time heals” Adam Goodes’ relationship with footy. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Earlier this week, AFL chairman Richard Goyder said Goodes had asked the AFL not to reveal his decision until after this year’s Hall of Fame induction event.

The ceremony was scheduled for June 22 but has been postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Victoria.

“Adam had asked the AFL to wait before announcing his decision, which has now been made public separately,” Goyder said.

“Adam was clear he did not want his decision to detract from the moment for the 2021 inductees.

“Adam remains a great champion and leader of our game who has given more to our sport than he received in return.”

Goodes achieved everything possible in the AFL — two Brownlow medals, two Premierships, four All-Australian berths, a place in the Indigenous Team of the Century, 372 games and even becoming the 2014 Australian of the Year.

But despite all his achievements, Goodes will always be remembered for the final years before his exit from the AFL spotlight, when the Swans legend was repeatedly racially abused.

Two documentaries were released on the subject with The Final Quarter and The Australian Dream covering the topic.

Goodes achieved every possible accolade during a stellar career with the Swans. Picture: Phil HillyardSource:News Corp Australia

Fellow Indigenous AFL icon Eddie Betts has come out in support of Goodes, saying he understood why he would reject the Hall of Fame honour.

“It was really sad, I could understand why,” Betts told AFL 360.

“What happened to Adam throughout his last two years of playing AFL footy and stuff that he copped throughout the organisation and through the general public as well, it does leave a scar.

“It leaves a scar and when you talk about racial abuse and would time heal that, time can’t heal racism, that sticks with you forever. When I think about it, I think about every time I’ve been racially abused and it cuts me deep, it really does, it still cuts me to this day and I think it’s going to hurt for the rest of my life. I think what happened to Adam will hurt him for the rest of his life.

“I think people out there have to respect his decision and understand his decision, I know it’s been out in the media today and I know there will be a lot of comments about Adam and his life but I just believe that people need to respect Adam’s decision, this is his decision, he’s been racially abused.

“If you haven’t been racially abused, then you don’t know what it feels like, it cuts you deep and obviously it cut Adam really deep and hopefully people out there can respect the decision that Adam doesn’t want to accept that.”

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