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.
Silvers spoke to reporters at the club’s West Lakes headquarters on Wednesday after bombshell revelations about the infamous 2018 training camp came to light with the release of Betts’ autobiography.
Silvers revealed he had texted Betts to apologise and expressed his hope the 350-game AFL legend and his family would one day feel comfortable enough to return to the club.
The AFL Players Association, meanwhile, will seek to reinterview Crows players involved in the camp amid fears they “felt pressured into remaining silent”.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, CEO Paul Marsh said the AFLPA would contact players to “seek a better understanding of the details of the camp and any individual issues that may have arisen from it”.
Silvers, who addressed the playing group on the issue on Wednesday, hopes to speak with Betts on the phone later in the week.
“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,” Silvers said.
“We’ve gone through an investigation through two different avenues, but we are sorry to anyone, any of our playing group, that had a negative experience because players’ welfare and well-being is paramount to our club.
“For someone like Eddie, who has left our club, to have a negative experience saddens me.”
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”.
“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.
“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.”
Crows football director Mark Ricciuto addressed the issue on Triple M on Wednesday, with the club legend expressing his hope Betts would be able to move on from the distressing experience.
“It’s sad to hear Eddie write that because he’s been one of the greats of the football club,” Ricciuto said.
“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.”
Ricciuto is one of the few remaining senior off-field leaders from the period in question still involved at the club, with coach Don Pyke, chief executive Andrew Fagan and chairman Rob Chapman having left.
Silvers was asked if it was appropriate for Ricciuto to resign given Betts’ shock revelations.
“I don’t think it’s my place to speak about a director of our board,” he replied.
“What I will say about Mark is that he’s a passionate person who has delivered both on and off the field.”
Betts claimed he was dropped from the on-field leadership group after voicing his concerns about the cultural insensitivities he and fellow Indigenous players experienced at the camp.
Silvers said the club would investigate those fresh claims about the leadership structure further in coming days.
Betts played for the Crows until the end of 2019, before requesting a trade back to his original club Carlton and retiring last year.
A SafeWork SA investigation last year cleared Adelaide of breaching health and safety laws.
An AFL investigation in October 2018 concluded there were failings in which Adelaide implemented and managed the pre-season program, but that there was no violation of industry rules.
“The AFL investigation in 2018 into the Adelaide Crows camp concluded there were failings in the manner in which the football club identified, implemented and managed the pre-season program,” the AFL said in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon.
AFL STATEMENT ON EDDIE BETTS Read it here
“However it was ultimately determined there was no violation of industry rules.”
The AFLPA statement said in light of Betts’ new revelations, it believed players were pressured to keep quiet about the camp.
“On the back of the new information that has emerged, the AFLPA will be contacting all Adelaide players from 2018 to seek a better understanding of the details of the camp and any individual issues that may have arisen from it,” Marsh said.
“We are extremely concerned about this (new) information on three levels. Firstly, the lack of psychological safety afforded to the entire playing group, secondly the cultural appropriation of Indigenous artefacts and, thirdly, the deliberate gathering of confidential information on players for the purpose of harmfully misusing the information.”