Fox Sports have apologised and removed an online video accused of “casual racism” by Pacific Island players.
The “Footy Kids in Cars” clip was aired on the Matty Johns Show last week and featured children trying to pronounce Pacific Island players’ names in the NRL.
Several ex-players including Petero Civoniceva, Nigel Vagana and Frank Puletua were angered by the video, which mocked proud Pacific Island family names.
Speaking to 9News Network, NRL head of Pacific strategy Puletua said: “I was a little bit disappointed that a segment like that got to air without any sort of thought about how it might be perceived by people in Pacific Island league communities,” he said.
Almost half of NRL first-grade players are Pacific Islanders and the wife of Cronulla prop Sam Tagataese, who was featured in the video, described it as casual racism.
Commenting on Facebook, she said: “Although I believe no malice was intended during the Kids in Cars segment on your show, I do believe that having parents laugh with their children because they are unable to pronounce Pacific Islander surnames is completely disrespectful. Casual racism is not ok and I do not want my daughter, who goes to school, to have to tolerate it.”
Puletua and Nigel Vagana, who is the NRL manager of wellbeing and education, are considering laying a complaint with Fox Sports and the NRL.
A spokesperson from Fox Sports said: “It was never the intention to upset or disrespect anyone, particularly the Pacific Islander community. We apologise to anyone who may have taken offence.”
You can watch the segment here.