MELBOURNE: The Australian Football League (AFL) has apologised to indigenous former player Robert Muir after he revealed he had suffered incessant racism and abuse during his career in the 1970s and 1980s.
The now 66-year-old said in an interview with state broadcaster ABC he had been routinely racially abused by opponents, spat on by fans and urinated upon by his team mates in his time at the St Kilda club in Melbourne.
Muir, who battled depression and alcoholism after his career, said he felt abandoned by his former club and the AFL, which at the weekend celebrated its now annual indigenous round of matches.
"Unfortunately, there are too many stories like this in our code and country's history," the league said in a statement.
"We would like Robert to know we acknowledge his story and, along with the St Kilda Football Club, will be making contact to understand further how we can respond, in accordance with Robert's wishes.
"We will be there to assist with a process of recovery and reconciliation and we also understand that there will be similar stories from our game's past that we need to address."
Muir said he had also been rebuffed by the players' union when he asked for money for an operation to fix a shoulder problem that resulted from his playing days.
St Kilda's chief executive Matt Finnis, a former head of the players' union, said reading about the racism Muir had been subjected to had been "confronting" and he conceded the club had made "grave errors in the past".
"We admire Robert's courage to speak out about the racism he has endured and lack of support provided by our club when he needed it most," he said in a statement.
"We apologise unreservedly to Robert and his family and are humbled that he continues to love our club."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)