UK Rugby Player Hit With 5-Game Ban, Fine for Anti-Gay Slur
A British rugby player was hit with a five-game ban after calling another player a "fucking faggot" in May, the U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail reports.
Zak Hardaker, a 22-year-old Leeds full-back, was charged with a grade E offense, which carries a suspension between four and eight matches, after he was caught hurling anti-gay slurs during a match nearly two weeks ago. Additionally, Hardaker was fined £300 ($503 USD) by a Rugby Football League independent disciplinary tribunal.
Last week, however, the athlete issued an apology for his offensive comments and admitted he used inappropriate language. He said his remarks were aimed at Warrington captain Michael Monaghan, and not the referee, James Child.
"I have complied fully with the RFL's investigation, never looked to deny what I said and will accept their judgment," Hardaker said in his statement.
He also took to Twitter to apologize: "Thank you everyone for ur support, 5 games it is live and learn and that's life, so I'll just make sure I come out better for it."
Leeds coach Brian McDermott said he will stick by his player.
"We welcome the fact that Zak has recognized his mistake and we will work with him to make sure that this type of incident does not happen again in the future," he said. "As a club and a game, we have always prided ourselves on how inclusive and welcoming our sport is and this incident, and the reaction to it, shows how seriously we all take this matter. We were pleased that the panel made a particular point of saying that they did not believe that Zak had meant his comment as a homophobic remark and that they considered that Zak was not homophobic."
"The club has worked hard to raise the issue of anti-homophobia in the past and we remain committed to working against all forms of discrimination," McDermott added.