One member of the Australian Penguin Football Club, which is in Tasmania, posted a photograph on a public Facebook causing outrage.
In the photo, which has since been removed from social media, players Mitch Stanley and Matt Chamberlain can be seen wearing tennis skirts and black wigs in addition to the black body paint plastered not only on their faces — but their entire bodies.
The celebration, which is known as Mad Monday, is a term widely used in Australia to refer to the traditional end-of-season festivities for football players.
Also in the photo was Beau Grundy, who dressed up as Kenyan-born Sydney Swans AFL player Aliir Aliir.
Shortly after the post was shared, many outraged social media users slammed the photo as racist.
“Some Australians still have no clue what is considered racist. This Mad Monday ‘costume’ is clearly racist. And I’m a person who is fed up with today’s over-the-top political correctness,” one user wrote.
The Penguin Football Club has since issued an apology stating, the costume “is unacceptable in this day and age.”
However, “it was not their intention to upset anyone and all they meant to do was dress as one of their sporting idols.”
“Their actions were never intended to be racist in any way. Those concerned have been reprimanded and will be given support to make sure they understand that their behavior was racist and hurtful and that it will not happen again.”
“The players concerned have acknowledged that what they did was completely and utterly unacceptable and would like to apologize unreservedly for their lack of judgment.”
The football controversy comes just a week after an Australian newspaper published a cartoon drawing showing an exaggerated caricature of Williams stomping on her tennis racket with a pacifier near her feet.
The drawing was an interpretation of William’s visible frustration during her U.S. Open match against Naomi Osaka, which she lost after getting into a verbal altercation with umpire Carols Ramos, who slammed Serena as a “thief.”
Despite the backlash surrounding the cartoon, which has been compared to the stereotypes seen in anti-black politic cartoons from the Jim Crow-era of America, the Herald Sun defended its choice to publish the offensive drawing.
“I drew this cartoon Sunday night after seeing the U.S. Open final, and seeing the world’s best tennis player have a tantrum and thought that was interesting,” cartoonist Mark Knight wrote in the paper.
“The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behavior on the day, not about race. The world has just gone crazy.”
Damon Johnston, an editor for the Herald Sun also defended the cartoon.
“A champion tennis player had a mega tantrum on the world stage, and Mark’s cartoon depicted that. It had nothing to do with gender or race. This was about a bad sport being mocked.”
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