NBA star Patty Mills has backed Collingwood ruckman Mason Cox for calling out a racist online attack against teammate Travis Varcoe.
Cox shared a screenshot of a tweet attacking himself and Varcoe, an Indigenous player who also suffered racist trolling last season.
Varcoe was branded a “chimp”, which Cox – himself offensively described as a “spastic” – condemned as “disgraceful”.
The abuse followed Collingwood’s upset loss to Essendon on Friday.
Collingwood condemned the attack on Saturday and Mills, a San Antonio Spurs and Australian Boomers player who is a leading voice on Indigenous issues, also lent his support on Sunday.
“You’re a great teammate for having his back, showing support and calling this out Coxy,” Mills wrote on Twitter.
“Thoughts are with Varcoe and hopefully the team can help him through. Turn this example into an opportunity to educate others but this has got to stop.”
AFL Players Association chief executive Paul Marsh condemned the racist attack.
“Here we go again. More racist filth directed at our players,” Marsh wrote on Twitter.
“Cannot comprehend how a human being could say this about another person. Hope we can find who he is …”
Collingwood, recently under scrutiny over its attitude towards racism after claims from former player Heritier Lumumba that discrimination was routinely ignored, slammed the racist abuse against Varcoe in a statement on Saturday. The slur directed at Varcoe – ‘chimp’ – is what Lumumba says he was nicknamed while at the Pies.
Below is Collingwood’s full statement.
– Collingwood Football Club condemns in the strongest possible terms the racial vilification of Travis Varcoe and abuse of Mason Cox on social media during last night’s match against Essendon.
The club has established that the author of an offensive social media post is not a member of Collingwood.
Offensive posts or comments in the past have resulted in the suspension or cancellation of memberships and an insistence on education and mediation before memberships can be reinstated.
The club asks for anyone involved in last night’s online conversation or who has details regarding the post or conversation to contact the club.
If possible the matter will be handed to authorities.
“The ignorance and prejudice in the comments is simply appalling,” Collingwood chief executive Mark Anderson said.
“Today, the football community willingly accepts that we have an obligation to put a stop to abuse of our people. I do not understand how such comments continue to be made.
“We stand with Travis and Mason and against vilification of this or any other variety and will do whatever we can to call these individuals to account.”