Players are important custodians of Australian football. In last night’s Australia Cup Final they were the public face of our game.

On the pitch the match reflected the universal values of fairness, respect and courage that should define our sport.

Unfortunately, in the stands these values were shattered.

Through the PFA, the players’ position has been regularly and well stated: our sport must be a force for good. Those who seek to harm others through offensive and unacceptable actions have no place among it.

Our sport must now respond and the players are committed to playing an important role. An effective response will not be developed by focusing on whether or not these actions were inflicted by a minority.

The key matter the game must address is the impact it has had on people in our community.

The players will engage with First Nation peoples and also other groups targeted – and rightly distressed – by alleged fascist chanting and gestures.

Australian football must reflect on the constantly repeated belief that we are the most inclusive and diverse sport and instead focus on our responsibility to our community and society.

That responsibility can only be met if the sport firstly ensures that the safety and rights of those within it are respected and protected.

Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill
PFA Co-Chief Executives