Community standards mean sport stars aren't getting away with whatever they please anymore
Community standards mean sport stars aren't getting away with whatever they please anymore

Star booed by own fans for Folau like

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has come out in defence of Gary Ablett, scolding fans for booing the AFL great during Monday's clash against the Cats.

Ablett spiralled into a storm of controversy after "liking" Israel Folau's homophobic Instagram post last week, collecting a wave of backlash from supporters.

Ablett, who played a blinder in Geelong's 23-point victory, was met with a chorus of vitriol from the packed MCG. Kennett wasn't impressed.

The 71-year-old said he was "disappointed" in the Hawks fanbase's "mindless" attack on the veteran and was adamant the booing was a result of Ablett's Instagram saga and not what was happening on-field.

"I can only think it was a result, I have been told, of an Instagram (like) that Gary put out in support of the comments Israel Folau made last week or the week before," Kennett said on 3AW.

"If that is the case, then I still don't like booing. I happen to believe sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me and people are entitled to their opinion whether they like them or not.

"I don't think on the sporting field the views one holds politically or religiously should flow over."

Gary Ablett was met with a hostile reception yesterday.
Gary Ablett was met with a hostile reception yesterday.

Kennett was astonished to hear even a handful of Cats fans booed the Geelong veteran as he pulled off a three-goal performance.

"I've been speaking to some Geelong people who were saying that Geelong supporters behind them were booing. I found it very disappointing ... There's more to this than just football."

The deeply-religious Ablett posted on Instagram on Easter Saturday that he loved all people "regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality". "I spoke to him about it for 30 seconds or so," Scott said.

"I'm not a social media participant at all but his (Instagram) post was shown to me. If he said 'I love all people', I think that says it, doesn't it? As a society we've got to stop hanging people who misspeak and then say 'sorry, that's not what I mean - this is what I mean'. You can keep trying to make a story of it if you like but I think you're being disingenuous if you do that."

On the other hand, Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield reckons AFL fans should go their hardest when it comes to booing opposition players.

Dangerfield, who is also president of the AFL Players' Association, says he's seen enough evidence to suggest it simply doesn't work.

"You can boo him (Ablett) as much as you like when he's kicking goals with the outside of his foot from 50 or taking screamers in the pocket and snapping goals," a grinning Dangerfield said after the game.

"Boo for your life. I don't think it bothers him too much.

"It's hilarious, really. What we've found with (West Coast midfielder) Andrew Gaff a few weeks ago is that booing does not work. Players don't care, they embrace it and the real good ones just feed off it like Gaz did today."

The boos for Gaff were fuelled by his eight-week suspension for knocking out Fremantle youngster Andrew Brayshaw.

- with AAP


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