Adelaide Oval has apologised and stated the appropriate action has been taken after a ticketing employee said she had been told to discriminate against Aboriginal people during an Aussie rules football game at the stadium last year.

The incident came to light after a former employee of McArthur Recruitment, which provides Ticketek with staff for Adelaide Oval’s box offices, told Australian broadcaster ABC about the incident at the NAIDOC Week game between Adelaide and Geelong on July 12, 2018.

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The former employee told ABC that the box office supervisor at the stadium’s eastern box office instructed staff to tell Aboriginal customers the game was a sell-out when tickets were still available.

A representative from McArthur Recruitment confirmed a directive of this nature was in place for “at least” an hour, adding that the company later undertook an internal investigation, which resulted in the box office supervisor being stood down from their position and suspended for two weeks.

The representative said the instruction was given after miscommunication between security guards and the box office supervisor, adding that policies and procedures had changed following the incident.

Aussie rules has been marred by racism scandals in the past and Adelaide Oval operator AOSMA has moved to address the ABC report and the criticism it has generated. AOSMA said that during the evening in question, South Australia Police and Adelaide Oval security teams became concerned with a group of individuals who had either been refused entry or would be refused entry for being in breach of the venue’s conditions of entry.

AOSMA said these individuals were “highly intoxicated” and behaving in an “aggressive way” that put Adelaide Oval staff and patrons at risk while persistently trying to gain access to the stadium.

AOSMA said SA Police working with security gave a directive to the East Box Office to not sell tickets to the individuals in this group to prevent them from getting to the gates where they would be refused entry.

In a statement, AOSMA said: “This directive was misinterpreted by the contracted box office staff who, regrettably, did not seek further clarification or follow established protocols that would have immediately clarified the situation.

“To clarify – any suggestion that tickets were not sold to any/all indigenous people as a matter of policy is completely incorrect, as is any suggestion that tickets were not sold to any/all indigenous people in the lead up to the game (other than if advised to by SA Police/Security because of behavioural issues).”

AOSMA general manager of operations, Darren Chandler, added: “Our staff work incredibly hard to make sure everyone feels welcome at Adelaide Oval and entry is only ever denied when someone is judged to be in breach of our conditions of entry.

“Therefore, it is extremely disappointing that a supervisor in the ticketing office misinterpreted a message from police and didn’t follow established protocols that would have clarified the situation. We are unequivocal in our stance that everyone is welcome at Adelaide Oval and we condemn discrimination in any form. We apologise to anyone affected and have taken steps to ensure this situation doesn’t arise again.”

Image: Government of South Australia