Eddie Betts has called on the AFL to apologise to he and all his Adelaide Crows teammates that were involved in the club’s infamous 2018 pre-season camp.
The release of Betts’ autobiography, The Boy from Boomerang Crescent, has sent shockwaves across the football community after the 35-year-old revealed distressing new allegations about what the players were subjected to.
While the AFL released a statement acknowledging the hurt caused as a result of the camp, the league is yet to apologise to the players, something Betts feels is the “easiest” move it can make.
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A Safework SA investigation into the camp in 2021 cleared Adelaide of breaching health and safety laws, while an AFL investigation in 2018 also determined the Crows had not violated any of its rules.
Speaking after the league’s latest comments, Betts said he and his teammates felt like they weren’t heard as the AFL conducted its initial investigation.
“Yeah, I do (feel they had enough information). We told them everything. I told them everything. I know a lot of the other players told them everything, but it didn’t feel like we were heard,” he told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“At the time, I was verbally talking about it. I told them everything, the way I was feeling and how I was feeling, and I just felt like my voice wasn’t being heard.
“I felt like I needed justice. It did hurt at first when nothing was done. We did get an apology from (Adelaide Crows CEO) Tim Silvers today, but hopefully justice is served.
“I think (an apology) is one of the easiest things to do, say sorry. They acknowledged it, but the easiest thing to do is say sorry.
“When they came out and said it about the Aboriginal players, it wasn’t only just the Aboriginal players, there was a lot of players hurting. The easiest thing is probably for the AFL to come out and apologise to all of us players.”
AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh said many of the claims Betts detailed in the book were “new information” to the association, in a statement on Wednesday evening.
Betts explained how the secretive nature of the camp, which had seen players divided into separate groups, was the reason behind his revelations taking the AFLPA by surprise.
“We did (tell the players’ association), but a big part of being in that environment (was) we weren’t allowed to say anything to anybody. We weren’t even allowed to tell our teammates,” he said.
“To this day, our teammates don’t even know what we did in our groups. That’s how we felt very divided and the club kind of broke down from that point. I could see that we were all hurting and we tried to make change at that point.
“It felt like you couldn’t speak up and it felt like you couldn’t tell all. I bared my soul and I was very vocal about it, and there was a lot of other players that were very vocal within that organisation and most of us aren’t there anymore.”
When asked why none of the players or staff involved in the camp objected to it at the time, Betts echoed the sentiment from his book, claiming the situation “was brainwashing”.
“You were kind of stuck into it and felt like you couldn’t leave,” he said.
Betts says he was a part of “group one”, the cohort of players that was allegedly subjected to the most severe regimen on the camp. He admitted to having spoken to other players from the group about their experiences.
“I do speak to a few of players that were in group one and when you look back on it you think, ‘What the hell were you doing? Why?’,” he said.
The star small forward placed a lot of the motivation for the camp on the Crows’ upset 2017 grand final loss to the Tigers.
“We were the best team in the competition, we had brain fade, we didn’t play that well and Richmond had a great finals series,” he said.
“They wanted to make us mentally strong, they wanted to make us resilient and a lot tougher in our mind.
“I said to the playing group, ‘Aren’t we resilient enough? Our coach (Phil Walsh) was murdered’. We had to galvanise together, we had to become closer together, we stuck through this pain, we were resilient, we were tough, we were mentally tough, we had to get back and play footy again. That’s resilient. That’s tough.
“We didn’t need to bring outside people in to make us mentally tough. We were already (in) a strong and great environment and a team that really cared for one another.”
Betts said he had remorse for the players who remained at the club.
“You’re in an organisation where you want to play footy, you love your teammates, you care about your teammates, and you don’t want to bring the place down,” he said.
“Every time the camp was brought up it felt like the place was crumbling in. A part of me feels sick for doing this because my mates and my friends are at the Adelaide Football Club right now and they have to go and deal with this being out there again.
“But (the message) for me to tell them is this is the truth that is coming out and you can finally move forward and understand what happened.”
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