NATIONAL Rugby League (NRL) star Isaac Luke has been fined $10,000 by league bosses following the posting of a homophobic slur on social media site Instagram.
The sanction comes just weeks after the NRL was criticised for being the only major code not to send any players to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.
After allegedly being harangued by Bulldogs’ fans online Luke wrote: “Get off my page you lil [sic] poofters”.
Luke later deleted the remarks and posted an apology.
“I was very worried and my emotion got the better of me I didn’t mean to offend anyone,” he wrote.
“Just tip me up if I’m being silly peeps.”
Following an investigation, the NRL today fined Luke $10,000 – with $5000 suspended – and demanded he undergo a crash course in tolerance.
An NRL spokesperson said while Luke believed he had been provoked into posting the offensive comment there was no place for discrimination in the league.
“We believe that education is the most important element in dealing with vilification matters such as this,” the spokesperson said.
“So we will require Isaac to undertake an education program in tolerance and equity in addition to the financial penalty.”
The NRL has been under scrutiny following allegations it snubbed last month’s Mardi Gras by failing to send any current or recent players to represent the code on a float dedicated to tolerance in sport.
President of gay rugby union world tournament Bingham Cup 2014 Andrew Purchas also said the NRL had proved the most sluggish of the major leagues when it came to providing high-profile ambassadors to back the cause of LGBTI inclusion.
At the time, the NRL said the parade clashed with the first round of the season and that the code had just has implemented a new diversity and inclusion policy.
The NRL is not the only rugby code that has had to deal with recent homophobic incidents.
Last month, NSW Warathas player Jacques Potgieter was fined $20,000 – like Luke, half of the fine suspended – for breaking in the Australian Rugby Union’s code of conduct.
Brumbies player, and anti-homophobia campaigner, David Pocock had reported a player to the referee for allegedly calling opposing players “faggotts”.
Potgieter later took part in a training session and apologised in person to gay rugby team, the Sydney Convicts.