It always amazes me that in the year 2013 there is still such a thing as racism and that it is still being taught.
- by: Jessica Evans, Mark Hayes
- From: Sunday Herald Sun
- May 26, 2013 12:00AM
THE teenager at the centre of the Adam Goodes racism scandal has apologised for "being racist", but the Brownlow medallist she abused does not blame her.
In a remarkable day in Australian sport, AFL greats and players united in their fight against racism, but spoke of their empathy for the girl who caused the furore.
Collingwood fan Julia Surowka, 13, abused Goodes with only minutes to go in Friday night's Indigenous Round game and was ejected from the MCG after a long grilling by Victoria Police.
She told the Sunday Herald Sun she is sorry and will now "think twice", as she did not realise her denigrating comment was a racial slur.
The visibly upset Swans star stormed off the ground after Julia called him an "ape", leaving the rest of his team to celebrate a 47-point win.
Her mother, Joanne Looney, 43, agreed to speak about the incident with her daughter, saying the racist episode had upset the entire family.
In an open letter to Goodes given to the Sunday Herald Sun, Julia apologised for "being racist".
"Dear Adam, it was good to talk to you on the phone. I'm sorry for being racist.
"I didn't mean any harm and now I'll think twice before I speak. From Julia."
Goodes said earlier he was shattered but did not blame the teen.
'Racism had a face ... and it was a 13-year-old girl - but it's not her fault," Goodes said.
Julia spoke to Goodes and Magpie president Eddie McGuire on the phone to apologise for her actions.
She vowed in her conversation with the dual Brownlow medallist and premiership champion she would learn from it.
After telling the Swans forward "I'm the girl who called you the ape yesterday", she apologised.
"I'm sorry for calling you racist names and I'll never do it again," she said of her conversation with Goodes.
"I'm really sorry for what happened. I didn't know it would be offensive."
Goodes explained to the teen why the use of the word "ape" was insulting to indigenous people and she had to learn from her mistake.
The family says a gracious McGuire told the teen she was still part of the Collingwood family.
McGuire says Julia will be welcomed back to Collingwood matches.
The Magpies president was angered and saddened at Friday night's events, but that "evolution, not revolution" was vital in alleviating future racism.
"We've organised counselling services ... for her, her friends and family and we won't be abandoning her," McGuire said.
"We want her to know it's side by side we stick together. You made a blue, but we all do. We're a forgiving club, and we want to make sure that she feels she can come to the football and help her get through this situation.
"I'm sure Adam Goodes will help us in our pursuits.
"It's really important, though, that we remember she's a young girl and not to walk away from education rather than humiliation."
AFL boss Andrew Demetriou described the incident as "extremely disappointing".
Ms Looney is upset by the treatment her daughter had received from MCG security - who told her family to remain seated as they ejected Julia - and police detaining her for what she said was two hours.
"It was ridiculous that she was in there for so long. For two hours they interviewed her over her saying, 'You're an ape'," Ms Looney said.
"I hope it's done and dusted. I think it was blown out, for a 13 year old, it was blown out of proportion. I think she would take it back if she could. I'd just like to apologise to Adam for it being said and apologise to the Collingwood Football Club."
Lucia Reynolds, Julia's grandmother, said they had only started attending the football this season and it had hurt the entire family as well.
"I was totally shocked when she said it," she said.
"Given the circumstances of the Indigenous Round it was not appropriate - it's not just insulting to Adam Goodes, it's insulting to all indigenous people."
Witnesses say angry footy fans booed Julia as she was led from her front-row seat by MCG security.
Nearby spectator James Molony, 23, said the crowd lost interest in the football after the taunt, focusing their energy instead on an "extremely vocal" reaction with lots of swearing.
"It was extremely abusive and on both sides; not just the Sydney supporters, but the Collingwood supporters as well," he said.
"You could see she couldn't get out of the stadium fast enough."
Collingwood ruckman Darren Jolly reportedly comforted Goodes, telling him: "Please don't let one person ruin your leadership this week."
Salvation Army Major Brendan Nottle, who acts as Collingwood's chaplain, said he had offered to talk to the girl and her family to help them cope with social media backlash.
"There absolutely has to be zero tolerance towards that sort of behaviour, but at the same time the girl is 13," he said.
- with Emily Portelli
Read more: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/national-news/victoria/teenage-girl-apologises-for-racist-insult-in-letter-to-adam-goodes/story-fnii5sms-1226650580225#ixzz2UNBoEBtJ