Marcus Griffiths issues statement horrific abuse

After Leeds Rhinos lost to Huddersfield Giants there was a lot of talk about match official Marcus Griffiths after Rohan Smith said the drop goal he awarded to Jake Connor was wide.

This was the most divisive of a number of 50/50 calls he was forced to make which you would have to say the vast majority he got right.

After this he was sadly subject to homophobic abuse online.

He has now released a statement:

“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has reached out to me with messages of support after I shared the abuse I received last week. I’m sorry I’ve not been able to reply to everyone individually but the amount of messages was truly overwhelming.

“The support I’ve had from my colleagues in the full time group, The RFL, and people from across the game has shown what rugby league should be about and why we love this sport.

“Referees are human, we make errors, and we’re not beyond criticism, but homophobic abuse is always a step too far. Let’s continue to challenge behaviours and remove them from our great game.”

Jenna Brooks had previously said:

“This week I spoke to Marcus, he said he’s doing okay. He said that he’s been overwhelmed by the amount of support he’s received from the entire sport.

“And in fact he is back at work tomorrow. He’ll be video reff at Warrington.”

Barrie McDermott added:

“Look a couple of weeks ago, Andy Last and Daryl Powell were coming in to some heavy and personal criticism on social media.

“I learned to make friends with social media probably 10 or 11 or 12 years ago and I don’t mind the criticism I get, you get, we get as a production team as somebody that talks and gives opinions about the gear.

“Where I do take exception is when it gets personal, it got personal with Marcus Griffiths, as it was with Andy Last and Daryll Powell.”

The RFL made the following statement:

“The Rugby Football League stands behind Marcus Griffiths, one of the full-time panel of elite match officials, as he highlights the disgraceful, homophobic abuse he has received on social media.

“Tony Sutton, the RFL Chief Executive, has written to all professional clubs today stressing the importance of observing the sport’s Tackle It policy and Respect code of conduct in supporting match officials.”

“All in the sport will condemn the appalling abuse which Marcus Griffiths has received on social media,” Sutton explained.

“We will provide support to Marcus through Rugby League Cares, and have worked with him in alerting the relevant authorities, whether digital or law-enforcement.

“We would urge all involved in the sport, whether at clubs or even in the media, to consider the consequences of their words and actions.

“Homophobic abuse is a hate crime and punishable by law. We want to be clear that any kind of discriminatory abuse is not welcome in our sport, and we will take the strongest possible action against perpetrators who can be identified.

“Our Match Officials work under intense scrutiny and pressure. We owe it to them as a governing body, and also as a sport, to support them at all times.”