IN February 2010, Andrew Lovett, an Australian rules football player, was charged with one count of rape over an incident in December 2009.
Lovett had been recruited by St Kilda that year after spending six years with, and playing 88 games for, the Essendon football club.
St Kilda immediately sacked Lovett. He never got back to playing in the senior league again, even though he was acquitted of the charge in July 2011.
Lovett is Aboriginal.
Last week, Stephen Milne, also of the St Kilda football club, was charged with four counts of rape. This was over an incident in 2004.
The club stood him down from playing. No sack notice for Milne.
Milne is a white man.
And there lies the difference. Despite all the protestations it might make, the Australian Football League, the body that runs the game, has one standard for indigenous players or officials and one for whites.
This was made evident in May when Eddie McGuire, the president of the Collingwood club, made a racist remark about Sydney indigenous player Adam Goodes.
McGuire got off scot-free. He was asked to go through the AFL’s remediation process and learn about indigenous practices and customs, but got no penalty.
But an indigenous official of the Adelaide club, Matt Rendell, was sacked when he was accused of making a comment about recruiting indigenous players with one white parent. He denied making the statement but got the boot anyway.
McGuire, a white man, got away with blue murder. Rendell, an indigenous person, lost his job.
And now Milne escapes with a lesser penalty than Lovett.
Australians will protest till they are blue in the fact that theirs is not a racist country. In the face of occurrences like this, it’s a little difficult to sustain that illusion.