Indefinite bans for NRL fans after alleged racial abuse

Jasper Bruce |

Cody Walker was playing his 200th game when he was allegedly subjected to racial abuse.
Cody Walker was playing his 200th game when he was allegedly subjected to racial abuse.

Two spectators have been banned indefinitely from attending NRL games after allegedly racially abusing Indigenous players Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker during a round-10 game.

On Sunday, the NRL received a report from a fan who claimed the two South Sydney players had been targeted by members of the Jubilee Oval crowd during the loss to St George Illawarra the previous night.

The integrity unit began investigating the matter and on Wednesday afternoon the NRL issued two spectators with a breach notice under the league’s spectator code of conduct.

The code of conduct states patrons risk being disqualified from buying tickets if they “make racial or threatening remarks or gestures” at games.

“Racism must be called out in all its forms because the standard you walk past is the standard you accept,” said NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo.

“Abusive behaviour directed at players will not be tolerated. I commend the fans that acted on this and brought it to our attention. With this information we have been able to take action.

“As a game we need to stand with our players and ensure they are treated with respect at all times. We will continue to protect players in their place of work.”

Latrell Mitchell.
Latrell Mitchell was returning from a three-game ban when he was allegedly targeted with abuse. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

The two spectators, unnamed by the NRL, have five business days to respond.

In a club statement, the Rabbitohs said they were “very supportive” of the bans and thanked NSW Police, the NRL and Dragons for their co-operation in investigating the matter.

“We welcome the NRL’s stance and the banning of these two perpetrators,” said Souths chief executive Blake Solly.

“We applaud the members of the public that stood up and called out this disgraceful behaviour. We hope more people show the bravery that this person has shown to call out racism in an effort to eradicate it from our society.

“We continue to support our players and their families who, unfortunately, still have to face this type of behaviour.

“Racism is archaic, disgusting and will not be tolerated.

“We call for supporters who attend games to respect all players and their efforts on the field.”

Mitchell had been playing his first game back from a three-game suspension for dangerous contact when he was targeted with the abuse, while stand-in captain Walker was playing his 200th NRL game.

A Biripi man, Mitchell was racially abused by a spectator at game in March last year, with that patron banned from future NRL games pending his apology to the Souths star and the completion of educational programs.

The latest incident comes after the NRL judiciary handed Sydney Roosters prop Spencer Leniu an eight-game ban earlier this season for calling Brisbane’s Ezra Mam a “monkey” during the sides’ round-one clash in Las Vegas.