An “appallingly offensive” meme that likened Indigenous ex-footballer Adam Goodes to a gorilla posted on social media has been taken down after the AFL demanded Facebook remove it.
The image showed Harambe, a lowland silverback gorilla, that was shot and killed by zoo staff last weekend after a boy fell into its enclosure.
The ABC has chosen not to publish the image.
AFL spokesman Patrick Keane said the league contacted the social media giant because it was “appallingly offensive”.
“The AFL immediately acted as soon as we were made aware of it, and we’re extremely pleased it’s been removed,” Mr Keane said.
“But [it] shouldn’t have been posted in the first place.”
Facebook has been contacted for comment.
He said the issue caused “great pain” to Goodes, who took time off during his final season last year afterbeing the focus of constant booing from football crowds.
The behaviour of the crowd sparked a national debate about racism.
In 2013 he was racially abused when a young girl called him an “ape” from the stands during a match.
Only days later Eddie McGuire apologised after an on-air gaffe suggesting Goodes be used to promote the musical King Kong.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan apologised to the Sydney great for the league’s slow response to last year’s racism controversy.
The duel Brownlow medallist and games record holder at the Sydney Swans retired last year after 372 matches.
But he did not participate in the annual Grand Final motorcade, which celebrates the retiring players of that year, due to concerns he would be once again booed by some sections of the crowd.
Facebook rejects early complaints over Goodes meme
A number of people had earlier reported the meme to Facebook in an effort to have it taken down, but it rejected them, saying the photo did not violate its community standards.
But after the AFL weighed in and the meme was removed, Facebook “updated” its response to the complaints.
“Thanks for letting us know about AFL Memes’s photo. It looks like they removed it before we could take a look,” it said.
“Please let us know if you see anything else that concerns you. We want to keep Facebook safe and welcoming for everyone.”
It is unclear if Facebook removed the post, or it was taken down by an administrator of the page.
The AFL memes page regularly posts mocking and joking images poking fun at footballers, sporting identities and football-related topics.
People can submit their own, which are then curated by the administrators, who are anonymous. Almost 200,000 people like the page.
There are similar pages dedicated to the NRL and cricket, and the NFL and NBA in the United States.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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