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Secret tape jeopardises Sharks CEO's job

07/06/2009 10:14:15 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla chief executive Tony Zappia's job is on the line following the airing of secret recordings of his off-handed treatment of a former employee that he accidentally punched in the face.

Former Sharks employee Jenny Hall covertly taped a meeting with Zappia following the incident in August last year.

The revelations from that meeting have already prompted NRL chief executive David Gallop to call on the Sharks board to "take the strongest action possible" if the recordings are "faithful".

"We will seek an urgent response from the board," said Gallop.

Network Seven said Hall claimed that Zappia cornered the then 25-year-old in a hallway and came up close and stood on both her feet.

She said she got angry and he lashed out.

Hall initially questioned whether his punch was accidental.

"Do you admit it was accidental?" Zappia said in the recording.

Hall replied: "I don't know how you could have accidentally hit me this hard. Look at my eye."

Later in the report it stated that Hall had agreed with Zappia that it was an accident but it has previously been reported the then community liaison officer was paid $20,000 by the Sharks.

Zappia has said in the past the incident was an accident and he was simply shadow boxing.

In the report on Sunday night, Hall expressed her annoyance at how the incident was being handled and Zappia replied: "Do you want to spank me?"

Hall, now living interstate, said later in the recorded conversation that she would be taking three days of sick leave to recover from the blow but Zappia said that wouldn't be happening.

"No, you're not, you're not taking it as sick leave," Zappia replied.

Network Seven also reported that Zappia opened an email with pornographic content during the meeting with Hall and showed it to her and his female personal assistant.

He denied this accusation.

"A set-up, you wouldn't know and how when the quotes (by the woman) were edited," Zappia told The Australian's website.

"I strongly deny showing the girls anything that was sent to my computer.

"It was an email sent by a junior member of staff.

"There was no attachment and it showed Latvian women in bikinis.

"I challenge anyone to talk to all members of my staff to verify what happened."

Channel Seven said it intended on handing the tapes over to the NRL.

Zappia's behaviour is the latest drama for the embattled club in the past month.

The Sharks have had to deal with fresh information coming to light in the 2002 Christchurch sex scandal and the positive drug test of forward Reni Maitua.

Former skipper Paul Gallen was accused of racially abusing St George Illawarra's Mickey Paea and Barry Pierce stood down as Sharks chairman last week.

To top it all, the club is in major financial strife.

Gallop met with the Sharks a fortnight ago with the Hall incident one of the topics of discussion.

"The NRL is on record as saying that it would review any new information that came to light," Gallop said.

"As much as Ms Hall has previously refused to discuss the matter with us, the tape aired (Sunday night) certainly provides that."

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