Gay slur at under-20s State of Origin match to be investigated
SYDNEY: A gay slur uttered during the Under 20s State of Origin match on Saturday has prompted an investigation by the NRL match review committee.
The slur, allegedly from an unknown NSW player and directed at Queensland lock Luke Bateman, was picked up by a referee’s microphone and heard by a television audience on Saturday night.
NRL CEO Dave Smith said “there is no place for any form of discrimination in our game”.
“Rugby League is a game for everyone and we will not tolerate slurs based on gender, race, sexuality or any other matter.”
He added the NRL match review committee would be asked to review TV coverage of the game. If anyone is found to be guilty, the offender will be cited and could face a fine or suspension.
“The NRL is determined to stamp out discrimination in our game,” Smith said
“This matter will be investigated fully and, if any player has vilified an opponent, appropriate action will be taken.”
The incident comes less than a month after the NRL became a signatory of an anti-homophobia framework.
Signed in April with four other major professional sporting codes, including the Football Federation, Australian Rugby Union, Cricket Australia and the AFL, the framework commits the signatories to introduce policies that would make their sport more inclusive for everyone. This includes policies to eliminate gay slurs on and off the field.
The framework has been spearheaded by organisers of the Bingham Cup, a gay rugby tournament which will be held in Sydney in August. The signatories have pledged to implement their policies in the lead up to the tournament.
Erik Denison, Spokesperson for the Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 organising committee, said anti-gay remarks were still commonplace on the field and can have damaging effects on players.
“They create a culture where people who play sport stay in the closet because they fear discrimination from their team mates and others,” Denison said.
“It’s unfortunate that these comments were made just weeks after all the major, professional sports in Australia committed to eliminating homophobia and making their sports inclusive to gay people.
“We are very pleased, however, that the National Rugby League has responded so quickly and strongly by launching an investigation to determine who made the comments.
“We agree completely with NRL CEO Dave Smith’s statement that there is no room in sport for discrimination of any kind.”
[Image] A scuffle breaks out at the Under-20s State of Origin match on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images