Reigning WNBL MVP Anneli Maley has claimed she was on the end of “misogynistic” verbal abuse by fans during the club’s narrow away win in Townsville on Friday night.
Basketball Australia’s integrity unit is investigating the claims, which surfaced after Bendigo Spirit had a 68-66 win against Townsville Fire.
In a social media post, Opals representative and Bendigo player Maley called out the “drunk men” for their allegedly “disgusting” behaviour in Townsville.
Townsville Fire said it was waiting for more information from Basketball Australia before it could comment on the alleged behaviour.
Maley, who has previously spoken candidly about her battles with depression, anxiety and panic attacks, has called on the Townsville Fire to “be better”.
Maley nailed the go-ahead three-pointer with a minute to go which sealed the win for the Spirit who are 4-0 and on top of the WNBL ladder.
But post game Maley posted an Instagram story calling out the “drunken men” for their “disgusting” behaviour stating it was not what a player with mental health issues should have to endure.
“Hey Townsville Fire – having a group of drunk men at your game abusing a player with mental health issues is bad form … be better,” Maley wrote.
“It’s not passionate fans. It’s misogynistic, it’s abuse and it’s disgusting.”
Maley had 12 points and 16 rebounds in the win and sits fifth in league scoring and first in rebounding. She was also a member of the Australian Opals’ team who won the bronze medal at the FIBA Women’s World Cup in Sydney in October.
Townsville general manager Sam Pascoe told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald the club was waiting for more information on what was said to Maley.
“We are waiting to hear from BA and the integrity unit as to what has been said so we can then deal with it,” Pascoe said.
All NBL and WNBL clubs have vocal fans who sit courtside and some them, at times, exchange comments with opposition players. But when those supporters go too far players have been known to call them out either to the home club or publicly.
The Fire are one of the WNBL’s success stories in the past decade winning over the local community and cultivating a dedicated supporter base who gives the team one of the best home-court advantages in the league.
Bendigo Spirit play Sydney Flames in Sydney on Sunday.
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