'UK rugby player suspended for gay slurs
UK rugby player Zak Hardaker, a fullback for the Leeds Rhinos in England's Rugby Football League (RFL) has been suspended for five matches after calling an opponent a ‘fucking fag”.
Hardaker made the comments during a match against Warrington, levelling the comments at the captain, Michael Monaghan. Initially it was thought that Hardaker had made the slur at the referee.
The RFL has investigated the incident and Hardaker has since apologised for his comment, saying in the heat of the game he used an offensive term and regrets having done so.
The player said he had complied fully with the RFL’s investigation process and accepted the suspension as justified.
Read Hardaker's statement below:
"First and foremost, I would like to apologise for any offense my comments during that game have caused. In the heat of the game, I have used an offensive term and I can honestly say I was deeply saddened when I found out after the game how it had been perceived.
"As professional players, we know that we have an obligation to conduct ourselves in the right manner for the good of the game at all times, that includes with our teammates, opponents, officials and, of course, supporters at the ground and those watching at home on television, and my comments fell below those standards.
"I would especially like to apologize to Michael Monaghan, who my comments were aimed at.
"During the investigation, I was made aware that the referee on the night, James Child, also heard my comment and was offended by it. I would like to unreservedly apologise to him for that and I can assure him that no offense was intended toward him.
"I made a mistake and hopefully, if any good can come from this situation, it is that everyone thinks about the words they say and how they can cause unintended offense to those around us. Clearly certain words have powerful meanings other than that intended at the time."