Former Wallabies and Kangaroos wing Wendell Sailor has spoken about the racial abused he has been forced to endure during his sporting career.
“I don’t want to go back naming teams or naming players, but since I was seven or eight, I’ve had it (racist abuse) in football, I’ve had it out of football,” Sailor revealed on Sky Sports UK’s Golden Point podcast. “It still happens.”
The Queenslander played over 50 matches combined for the Australian national union and league sides while he amassed over 200 games in the NRL.
Sailor went on to discuss some of the specific instances of racism that he’d experienced on the field.
“I suppose I have never gotten into it so much outside of my work, but I remember as a young international, playing for the Kangaroos, it happened.
“I won’t say the team, I don’t want to get into it, because it happened to me and I sort of left it on the field. The bloke who racially vilified me just sort of shook hands and left it there. That’s what you did back in the 90s.
“I suppose when I played in the NRL, it happened once or twice. Rugby not so much. Even when I went to South Africa, it happened with the fans. But you just learn to live with it.”
While Sailor said that he had learned to deal with the abuse throughout his career, there was no excuse for what occurred and in the current day and age, things must change.
“At the time [I probably wasn’t affected by it], because if you need to racially vilify me, that’s your problem, it’s not my problem.
“So I used it. The more you went at me, the more it built me up. I’m going to take a tougher carry, I’m going to try and score a try, that’s my way of saying: ‘Come at me with everything you’ve got.’
“You just learn to deal with it, whereas in 2020 now, things have got to change.
“For me, because I’m of indigenous background, it’s been tough. I have a young daughter, two sons. It’s just so close to home.
“I see it happens in the Premier League to some of the great black soccer players. The NBA, it happens in the NBA.
“It’s gut-wrenching to see, especially when you have young kids and you just want it to change, and you think it is going to change.”
Sailor’s eldest son, Tristan, plays for St George Illawarra in the NRL.
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