Nic Naitanui Says He's Racially Abused By AFL Fans '20 Times A Year'
Nic Naitanui says he cops racial abuse "all the time" from fans on social media.
With 107 goals in 183 AFL appearances, the West Coast Eagles star - who is of Fijian descent - is widely regarded as one of the best footy players of his generation.
But 30-year-old Naitanui says he's been in the racism firing line throughout his entire 12-year AFL career - and even beyond that as a child.
Appearing on the Ordineroli Speaking podcast with Neroli Meadows, Naitanui detailed just how much abuse he's been subject to.
"In terms of social media stuff? Every game," he said.
"If we play 20 odd games a year, I'd get it 20 times a year easily.
"I should probably start documenting it and screenshotting it but I've learned to move on.
"I don't mind if you bag my football but if you start bringing race or family into it, what hurts me more is when they do it to my teammates, especially younger teammates. I got younger teammates like Liam Ryan who cops it all the time, and he went through a phase where he was copping it every single week.
"And if they haven't been given the tools or resilience to look past it or be a bigger person and not let it effect them too much, that would be okay, but when I see how much it hurts them and hurts their family then that really p***es me off."
Naitanui acknowledges that everyone has their own unique way of dealing with racism.
Some choose to publicly out racists by posting screenshots of message exchanges on social media.
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But for Naitanui, he insists he doesn't want to risk giving the abusers a "voice" by doing that.
"Sometimes you think you get to the point where you think you're bigger than that but you're not," he added.
"Especially during the season, especially if you push someone over or you do something to someone's team that they support, there's always someone with an anonymous account.
"Sometimes not even anonymous, sometimes they're not scared at all and they'll write some pretty racist stuff.
"When I was younger I used to screenshot a lot of that stuff. I see a lot of guys post that stuff and share it, that used to be me, but now I hate giving them a voice.
"Sometimes I'd fight back, I used to write back to them or have a go at them, if knew they lived in Perth though I'd find a way to meet them and catch up with them.
"Especially if you see them in a club or something and you know who they are and you know what they've done, I'll let them know.
"You wouldn't say it to their face, my biggest thing is some of these guys, I don't care if you're a 20-year-old man or a 60-year-old man, if you saw a big black guy in public you're not going to say the sort of stuff you've said.
"Everyone's got a lot more balls on social media than they do in real life."
Featured Image Credit: West Coast Eagles / Twitter
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