Adelaide Crows apologise to AFL great Eddie Betts for camp trauma

Adelaide Crows apologise to AFL great Eddie Betts for camp trauma

Adelaide chief executive Tim Silvers has publicly and privately apologised to Eddie Betts for the trauma the AFL great suffered during the Crows’ ill-fated pre-season camp in 2018.

Silvers told reporters at the club’s West Lakes headquarters that he had reached out to Betts via text on Wednesday morning after bombshell claims about the controversial 2018 training camp came to light with the release of Betts’s autobiography.

“We’ve got a leadership and a culture [now] that we’re driving that prioritises others and I think we can move forward, but we would like to say sorry to Eddie and anyone else who had a negative experience throughout the camp,” said Silvers, who assumed the CEO role in March 2021.

An Indigenous icon and one of the AFL’s greatest small forwards, Betts claims the experience on the Gold Coast following the Crows’ shock 2017 grand final loss was “weird” and “disrespectful”.

In the book, Betts claims sensitive Aboriginal cultural rituals were appropriated by organisers of the camp, including a First Nations peoples’ ritual of a “talking stick”, which Betts says was used incorrectly.

“There was all sorts of weird shit that was disrespectful to many cultures, but particularly and extremely disrespectful to my culture,” Betts wrote in his book, The Boy from Boomerang Crescent.

“Things were yelled at me that I had disclosed to the camp’s ‘counsellors’ about my upbringing. I was exhausted, drained and distressed about the details being shared. I felt like I’d lost the drive to play footy, and to be honest, I’m not sure I ever had the same energy I did before that camp.”

Mark Ricciuto, the Crows’ long-time football director, addressed Betts’ claims on Wednesday morning.

“It’s sad to hear Eddie write that, because he’s been one of the greats of the football club,” the Brownlow medallist and former Crows champion told his Triple M breakfast show. “I’m not sure if there’s anyone who’s thrilled the crowd more than Eddie Betts.

“I think the club’s been on record at times to say they acknowledge it wasn’t handled perfectly, it had all good intentions, but it didn’t go perfectly. We all love Eddie, and hopefully Eddie’s getting over that.

“That was four years ago, certainly the club has moved on from that and looking towards the future and have made a lot of ground since then.”

Betts played for the Crows until the end of 2019, before requesting a trade back to his original club, Carlton. He added another 36 games for the Blues, before retiring at the end of last season following 350 AFL matches.

The Crows have failed to qualify for the finals since the 2017 decider and are three seasons into a rebuild under new coach Matthew Nicks.

A SafeWork SA investigation last year cleared Adelaide of breaching health and safety laws and an AFL investigation in October 2018 cleared the Crows of any rule breach.

Betts’ story even prompted Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney to speak out, saying “no one deserves to be treated” how the now-35-year-old says he was.

“Eddie’s distressing experience is an important reminder on why we need to do better at understanding and respecting Indigenous culture and traditions,” Burney tweeted.