Joel Wilkinson's legal action against the AFL over alleged racism and sexual harassment could push others to speak out against the national sporting code, his lawyer says.
The former Gold Coast Suns defender is set to take action against the league over alleged racial vilification and sexual harassment during his three-year playing career.
The 26-year-old's case is set to be filed with the Australian Human Rights Commission by the end of the week after talks between the AFL and Wilkinson, who is of Nigerian descent, broke down.
Lawyers for Wilkinson allege he was subjected to discrimination by AFL staff, Suns officials and teammates, as well as opponents and spectators.
They believe Wilkinson's alleged experiences are just the "tip of the iceberg" and that other players could follow his lead.
Wilkinson was 19 when he was racially abused by Western Bulldogs rival Justin Sherman in his 2011 debut season and again a year later by a Collingwood member.
"We have very clear evidence that demonstrates Mr Wilkinson was excelling in his career," lawyer Will Barsby told reporters on Wednesday.
"And as soon as he raised with his superiors some direct discrimination that he experienced on field during a game at the hands of another player, he was shortly let go thereafter.
"He was shunned. He was silenced. He was then further mistreated by other players."
Mr Barsby said the defender was also exposed to "racially-enticed sexual harassment" in the change rooms, and had suffered psychologically as a result.
"For too long, organisations like the AFL have been gagging people with hush money and forcing them to sign confidentiality deeds so they can't talk about their experiences," he added.
In a statement on Wednesday, the AFL apologised to Mr Wilkinson for the racial abuse he experienced.
"He has previously shared his experience of racial abuse, helping educate the community via a series of social awareness videos produced with the AFL," it said.
"We respect a person's right to pursue claims through the legal system.
"We will continue to work with Joel to seek to resolve this matter."