So now rugby league plays the racism card

This can’t get any more pathetic.

The recent Pacific Island Rugby League Internationals have thrown up accusations of racism amid complaints over commentators not pronouncing Pasifika names correctly.

The captains of PNG, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji pose before the Pacific Test. Photo: Facebook / NRL – National Rugby League

New Zealand’s Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) says it has complained to Australia’s Fox Sports about the broadcast.

Last week the national teams of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga faced off in Sydney.

PIMA chair Will ‘Ilolahia said many of their members turned the sound off the broadcast as they were disgusted with the pronunciation of the Pacific names.

“They were just butchering the names and even laughing at some of it as they were saying it, and that’s not just on.

Seriously? What next? They need to break because their make-up is running and they need to reapply it? 

“To me it qualifies as a racist act because racism is when one particular culture or race feels that they can dominate the other and through Te Reo, language, it’s just another method of perpetuating that racism so that’s why we have actually said it’s racist.”

Mr ‘Ilolahia said although commentators have struggled with names for years, with the increasing presence of Pasifika at the elite level, it was time for broadcasters to step up.

Rugby broadcaster Fauono Ken Laban agreed.

“The diverse nature of the make up of our society and our elite sporting teams is a reflection of what’s going to happen in the future, so those broadcasters, in my view, who are incapable or don’t even attempt, I would like to think that their position in mainstream broadcasting is limited.”

Mr Laban said he only knew two commentators who personally approached him for advice on pronunciation. He said he understood why people may see the commentary as racist.

“And in some cases it maybe right.”

Some cases. May be.

So, most cases. Probably not.

Get over yourselves. I’ve listened to the Brits butcher our names, and let’s not even start with what we do to the French and some of the Welsh names (excluding Jones, of course)

Sure there may be a reality to it, but when Pasifika rugby needs to have a whine about it we’re all pretty much stuffed.

Leave it to the social justice warrior Susan Devoy, and the perennially outraged, and get on the paddock and play.



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

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