Sharks changed club's culture: Zappia - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sharks changed club's culture: Zappia

12/05/2009 01:44:41 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla chief executive Tony Zappia says the NRL club has measures to ensure incidents like the 2002 sex scandal involving Matthew Johns and other Sharks players could not happen again.

Zappia issued a statement on Tuesday in the wake of the ABC Four Corners report on Monday night on rugby league sex scandals and player attitudes to women.

The program interviewed a New Zealand woman who had sex with a group of Cronulla players including Johns after the Sharks had journeyed to Christchurch for a pre-season match.

She said her life had been ruined and she wanted them dead because she hated them so much.

"Like everyone who saw the program last night, I feel enormous sympathy for the girl involved in the incident seven years ago," said Zappia.

"As a family man I too found some of what was revealed to be unacceptable behaviour.

"In saying that however I cannot go back to 2002 and change anything which may have taken place, while I also understand there was an independent investigation conducted by police from Christchurch, which resulted in no criminal charges being laid.

He said Cronulla's player ranks had changed dramatically since that time and the club had undertaken a "very proactive approach" in recent years to changing attitudes and educating players on what was and wasn't socially acceptable.

"Measures are now in place to ensure incidents of a similar nature as portrayed on the ABC program would never occur again," he said.

"The code of conduct is strictly enforced at our club, while especially over the past six to eight months the Sharks have shown as a club they are prepared to take stern action, including standing down or dismissing players breaching the code of conduct in regards to anti-social behaviour."

The Sharks sacked star player Greg Bird in mid-January before he was convicted a fortnight ago for reckless wounding and lying to police over the attack on his American girlfriend.

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