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ABC host Tony Armstrong’s raw reaction on live TV to Eddie Betts’ revelation of racist slurs towards his kids: ‘Better man than I am’

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ABC presenter Tony Armstrong gave a raw, emotional response on Friday morning to the shocking racial abuse shouted at the children of AFL legend Eddie Betts while playing basketball in their front yard. 

A video posted online by former Carlton and Adelaide player Betts, who is Indigenous, shows a white car approaching his home before someone in the vehicle yells out the N-word four times.

Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, a clearly upset Armstrong, who is also Indigenous, said ‘Eddie is a better man than I am’ for how calm his reaction had been. 

‘He has reached out and said he wants to talk to that person, what a star.’  

As sport stars and politicians expressed their disgust, Armstrong said he was ‘not shocked that it’s happening … I’m more disappointed that people think that this doesn’t happen, that this is out of the blue’.

ABC presenter Tony Armstrong gave a raw, emotional response to the shocking racial abuse shouted at the children of AFL legend Eddie Betts while playing basketball in their front yard. The Betts family is pictured

ABC presenter Tony Armstrong gave a raw, emotional response to the shocking racial abuse shouted at the children of AFL legend Eddie Betts while playing basketball in their front yard. The Betts family is pictured

‘As a black person in this country, you walk out the door and you know anything could happen based on the colour of your skin, based on who you are as an Aboriginal person.

‘(But) this is in the home … over the fence, and we saw the reaction of the kids, running inside,’ Armstrong said. 

He said he hoped Betts’ children ‘don’t have a long lasting sense of PTSD with this, but unfortunately they probably will because it won’t be the only one they’re subjected to… I’m gutted’.

Armstrong pointed out that Betts ‘has taken the high ground again’ and that it could be a very different story if he had reacted differently. 

‘What if Eddie heard and chased them down the street, as almost any parent would do if they were there to hear it … He would be the one ending up being splashed (in the media as) “Angry Eddie Betts”.’

Betts wrote on Instagram that ‘Aboriginal kids deserve to be able to play safely, free from racism and abuse over the fence’.

‘We are not even safe in our own homes. If you know who this is please let me them know that I’m open to having a chat about how much this hurts our kids.’

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon and general manager for inclusion Tanya Hosch said the abuse shouted at Betts’ children has no place in sport or wider society.

‘We must express our strongest condemnation against another example of overt racism, this time targeting children playing sport in their own front yard,’ the pair said in a statement.

‘We acknowledge the leadership of Eddie Betts for bringing this to national attention. Racism is wrong. Racism is harmful. Racism requires a response.

‘The AFL takes this opportunity to remind everyone at all levels of the game, that racist behaviour is never welcome.’

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan also condemned the incident and offered her support to Betts’ family.

‘It is sickening and disgusting that kids playing basketball in their own backyard have to be subject to such disgusting racial abuse,’ she said.

Tony Armstrong (pictured) said 'As a black person in this country, you walk out the door and you know anything could happen based on the colour of your skin'

Tony Armstrong (pictured) said ‘As a black person in this country, you walk out the door and you know anything could happen based on the colour of your skin’

Eddie Betts is pictured playing for the Adelaide Crows on May 11, 2019 in a game against Port Adelaide Power

Eddie Betts is pictured playing for the Adelaide Crows on May 11, 2019 in a game against Port Adelaide Power

‘(Eddie Betts) has talked a lot about his own personal experience with racism and he has been a strong and proud Indigenous man.’

Michelle Ananda-Rajah, a Labor MP representing Higgins, in Melbourne’s south-east, said she had experienced similar situations.

‘As a person of colour, I have dealt with this too,’ she said. ‘Now I stare down the haters. 

‘The children belong here, they make our community more vibrant and stronger. They should not fear being here.’

At his weekly press conference on Friday morning, Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said the attack made him angry and emotional.

‘Obviously, as a club … everyone has put something out there to express their support and love and concern for the Betts family,’ he said.

‘Quite simply, it just makes my blood boil. Everyone feels the same. I hope everyone does.’

Eddie Betts' children (pictured) were playing basketball when they were subjected to horrific racial abuse shouted from a passing car

Eddie Betts’ children (pictured) were playing basketball when they were subjected to horrific racial abuse shouted from a passing car

Betts retired from the AFL in 2021 after playing 350 games with Carlton and Adelaide. 

He was repeatedly subjected to racist abuse throughout his career and had a banana thrown at him during a match at Adelaide Oval in 2016.

At his retirement announcement, Betts said he was tired of fighting racism and that the AFL was not a safe environment for Indigenous players.

Now 37, he has spoken publicly many times about the abuse thrown at him and has previously implored Australians to help tackle racism.



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