THE NRL is investigating an alleged racist comment made by a worker in an NRL polo shirt during Saturday’s Test between the Kangaroos and Tonga in Auckland.
The Tongan DJ assigned to provide music at Mt Smart Stadium, Alfred Aholelei, said he was offended by the comment made by the man in the production room during the halftime “Dance Cam” segment.
Aholelei alleges the man shouted “Dance monkey, dance” as footage of crowd members dancing appeared on the big screen.
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Fans watch the game during the rugby league international Test match between Australia and Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium. Picture: Fiona Goodall / AFPSource:AFP
Aholelei said he was angered and confronted the man about the comments. “He realised what he said and looked just as shocked as I did, to be honest,” Aholelei told Radio NZ.
“I think he was embarrassed, he didn’t know what to say. He turned and walked away, and came back and tried to apologise.” Aholelei said the director of a production team in the box heard the comments and also appeared stunned.
“Usual workplace situations would’ve called for an immediate stand down of somebody or a meeting would need to take place to discuss the grievance,” Aholelei wrote on Facebook.
“There was no way that was going to happen as we were dealing with a live production.”
It is unclear if the man is an NRL staff member but the organisation is investigating the allegation, an NRL spokesperson confirmed to AAP. “The NRL takes the allegation very seriously and is investigating the circumstances,” a statement said.
“We have spoken with the relevant parties and are working through a process.” Aholelei said he spoke on Monday to an official from the NRL Integrity Unit, who had provided assurances it would ascertain what had happened and ensure there was no repeat.
Aholelei said it wasn’t the only incident that had marred what was otherwise an evening of great pride at the atmosphere generated by a sold-out crowd comprised almost entirely of Tongan supporters.
Earlier, he said a production technician “kept referring” to the need for security so Australian supporters could be escorted out of the stadium if the Kangaroos won.
“It then became obvious that this guy’s stereotypical views on Tongans/Pacific People were that we are ‘violent people’ who would set out to ‘attack other people’ because of who they support,” Aholelei wrote on Facebook. The production team was a combination of contractors and professionals from Australia and New Zealand.
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Originally published as NRL racism furore: ‘Dance monkey, dance’
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