Everyone is familiar with the iconic image iconic image of Nicky Winmar lifting his jersey in 1993 in response to racist taunts – we should be as the AFL have been plugging it hard. In response to the incidents at the 2013 Collingwood v Sydney game it must be asked has the game dealt with the problem appropriately?
Remember the Victorian Football Association? In the 1993 a talented forward named Joskun ‘Jack’ Aziz kicked a 50 metre goal to deliver Werribee a preliminary final win. The following week Werribee defeated favourites Port Melbourne in the Grand Final to claim their first premiership.
Not everything was so glorious for Jack Aziz. A proud Muslim of Turkish Cypriot heritage Aziz would be subjected to taunts. In 1990 racial taunts was used as a defence at the tribunal. His father would often react to comments at games. Taunts reached their peak during the first Gulf War. In a 1996 interview in The Age Aziz is quoted ‘other times I just get so angry that the umpire can hear this abuse and not say a word’.
The story of Jack Aziz shows that racism within the game runs a lot deeper than the involvement of indigenous footballers. By playing senior footy Aziz struck a blow for Muslims, Jews, Africans and any other group that has slowly entered the game. The question remains – why did it take so long for them to enter the game?