Special Olympics Australia has hit back after Manly NRL star Addin Fonua-Blake was sent off for calling referee Grant Atkins a “f—ing retard”.
Fonua-Blake was incensed when Atkins and the bunker opted not to award a penalty try to Sea Eagles winger Tevita Funa in the dying moments at Brookvale Oval on Sunday, condemning Manly to a 14-12 loss against Newcastle.
The prop lost his temper at Atkins and was dismissed from the field for using the offensive insult. He later apologised via a club-issued statement.
Special Olympics Australia issued a reminder that “the R-word” is a hurtful, discriminatory term.
“The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory. Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions. All clubs and players within @NRL need to be reminded of this and asked to #ChooseToInclude. @FOXNRL @SeaEagles @NRLonNine #NRLManlyKnights,” Special Olympics Australia’s official Twitter account posted after the Sunday incident.
Fonua-Blake said in a statement from Manly: “Referees have a very tough job and we all need to respect their decisions even when we may not agree with them.
“I should not have let my emotions get the better of me and I am very sorry for the comments I made.
“I’d also like to offer my sincere apology to anyone offended by the regrettable language that I used. I let myself and my club down. That is not who I am or what this club stands for.”
Nine commentator Phil Gould said that Fonua-Blake had “let his emotions get the better of him”.
Manly coach Des Hasler addressed the send-off but not the offensive nature of Fonua-Blake’s blast at the referee.
“Obviously, he sent Addin off so we’ll need to look at that,” Hasler said post-match.
“I think from Addin’s point of view, it was emotion and frustration, but you’ve got to contain that, so we’ll have to wait and see what the charge or the fallout of that is.
“I’ll have to probably check with Graham Annesley what the rule is in regards to the penalty try and the penalty and shot at goal.
“I’m sure it’s fine and it’s in the rules, but I’ll check and see what the NRL has to say.”