On March 13, 2023, during a Penrith and South Sydney clash at BlueBet Stadium, a 15-year-old wearing a Sydney Roosters jersey allegedly directed a racial slur at fullback Latrell Mitchell as he left the field at halftime.
The NRL Integrity Unit and NSW Police are working together to investigate the incident, and conflicting reports have emerged about what was said.
Incidents of racism and cultural insensitivity have plagued the NRL, and despite efforts by the Australian Human Rights Commission to encourage NRL clubs to adopt a code to combat racism, only one NRL club has become a signatory.
The NRL is not alone in football codes’ failure to reflect changing societal attitudes toward First Nations people.
The AFL has made strides to address racism, but it still lurks in the code, waiting for its moments too.
The NRL must take a more cohesive approach to combat fans’ racism, and the current system is unfit for purpose.
NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo promised offenders that they will be called out, and the code must embrace a collective response to address fans’ racism.