THE National Rugby League has said it could suspend a NSW player if found guilty of homophobic abuse at an interstate football match over the weekend.
During Saturday night’s Under 20s State of Origin match in Penrith, an as yet unidentified NSW player called Queensland lock Luke Bateman a “f***ing gay c***”.
The abuse reportedly occurred in the 74th minute of the match after the NSW player pushed an opponent prior to a scrum.
Picked up by the referee’s microphone, the insult could clearly be heard on the Fox Sports television coverage watched by over 100,000 people.
In a statement, NRL chief executive Dave Smith said the match review committee would be asked to examine the television coverage to determine if anyone should be cited.
“The NRL is determined to stamp out discrimination in our game,” he said.
“Rugby League is a game for everyone and we will not tolerate slurs based on gender, race, sexuality or any other matter.
“This matter will be investigated fully and, if any player has vilified an opponent, appropriate action will be taken.”
Smith said the committee had the power to fine or suspend anyone guilty of vilification.
At the framework’s launch, Smith said: “We still have moments where I’m not proud of something which happens in our game, like when one of our players made the most disparaging remarks about homosexuality last year.”
The comment was an apparent reference to a rant by Newcastle Knights player Ryan Stig who, in 2013, compared homosexuality to alcoholism and said marriage equality was “demonic”.
“We should have been stronger about our condemnation of those remarks,” Smith said.
Andrew Purchas, President of the Bingham Cup 2014 Sydney, and a driving force behind the Anti-Homophobia Framework, said eliminating gay slurs from the game was a “low bar” and only the first step to making the sport more accessible to LGB people:
“It is very disappointing that these types are remarks are still being made on the footy field,” he said.
Purchas welcomed the NRL’s comments and said he was looking forward to see how the league would respond to the incident.
Bateman has reportedly named the player involved in Saturday’s incident to match officials.
However, according to Fairfax Media, he has no plans to raise an official complaint about the incident.