Vile trolls have unleashed death threats on an AFL star in a spate of vicious online attacks over an on-field incident.
Premiership Tigers player Dylan Grimes was fined $750 after he was accused of staging for a free kick during his side’s clash with Essendon in Darwin on Saturday.
The Richmond defender hit the ground when he appeared to have been pushed in the back by Bombers midfielder Jake Stringer.
It happened as forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti ran into an open goal and would have put the Bombers up by 11 points.
McDonald-Tipungwuti’s goal was disallowed and Tiger Nick Vlastuin was able to boot two goals and give Richmond a match winning lead.
On Sunday, Grimes shared a video of his Instagram inbox and some of the vile messages that came flooding in.
‘I apologise in advance for the swearing but this is ridiculous… Death threats and suicide suggestions? Come on,’ he wrote.
‘Reminding the Essendon fans that inboxed me that this is a game we play for fun.’
Most of the insult-laden messages accused him of ‘diving’ – implying that he exaggerated the impact of a bump to get a free kick.
The more polite ones sarcastically called for him to win an Oscar for his ‘acting’ or join the Olympic diving team.
‘You’re so sad … you need to make a public apology’, ‘f***-ing dumb c*** you and your whole team,’ one troll wrote, with references to his wife Elisha.
‘The Australian diving team wants you for Tokyo 2021,’ another wrote.
‘I reckon you’d be a good chance.’
It marked Grimes’ second offence in 12 months after he was slapped with a $1,000 fine for the same staging offence during last year’s semi-final against Brisbane.
Vlastuint, who was also hit with a $500 fine over a separate staging incident involving Essendon ruckman Tom Bellchambers, shared threats he received.
‘Few nice messages after the game, always good for the mental health,’ he wrote, sarcastically, on Instagram.
One message read: ‘You act like a had (sic) man on the field but get love tapped but (sic) drop like a sack. F**king fairy.’
Richmond condemned the trolls and said players should not be subject to online attacks.
‘Threats of violence directed towards our players and their families on social media are completely unacceptable,’ it said in a statement.
‘Online abuse has no place in our game, or our society.’
Some punters send AFL death threats whenever their performances cause them to lose money on a bet.
Vlastuin, Grimes and Port Adelaide rookie Zak Butters all received numerous taunts after Saturday’s matches that didn’t work in their favour.
One punter bizarrely demanded Butters ‘chuck me some free tickets you b******’.
‘Listen here you little c**t do you know what I lost on you, you f**king useless bastard,’ the punter wrote in an Instagram message.
He then proceeded to graphically detail how Butters’ parents should have failed to conceive him.
Brisbane Lions star Mitch Robinson was backed by fellow high-profile athletes after he criticised gamblers venting at players who caused them to lose money.
‘Not one AFL player gives a flying f*** how we cost you a $100 multi, it’s a $5 bet you idiot,’ Robinson wrote on Twitter earlier this month.
‘If you’re struggling with that amount please don’t punt in the first place. Death threats & “hope you do your ACL next game” I dare say we won’t pay you out either.’
The threats came just two weeks after Greater Western Sydney midfielder Callan Ward said on Saturday he had been on the receiving end of threats following his involvement in a game-altering incident against Essendon.
Ward was given a free kick for high contact after a collision with an Essendon opponent, which led to him increasing the Giants lead to ten points with under two minutes remaining.
But Ward said his late-game heroics was followed by punters angrily posting on his social media profiles – even leaving abusive messages under photos of his son Romeo.
‘With what has happened last night, the most disappointing thing is I have a lot of Essendon supporters, a lot of AFL supporters, commenting on photos of Romeo, my baby, and saying I’m a flog, all this stuff,’ he told 3AW.
‘I am copping it a bit, which is disappointing. I’m in a situation where as an AFL player we’re trying to get the game going and trying to play AFL football.
‘But at the same time we’re away from our families and it’s tough for us as well. So it’s disappointing to see that people feel the need to express their passion and hatred towards me at the moment.’