NRL praised for its anti-racism stance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL praised for its anti-racism stance

By Steve Jancetic 18/08/2010 07:57:07 PM Comments (0)

Mick Gooda - the conciliator in the Andrew Johns-Timana Tahu racism row - has praised the NRL over its commitment to addressing racism and promotion of Aboriginal issues within society.

Speaking at the launch of the close the gap round, Gooda said initiatives such as this weekend and the hugely successful All-Stars game on the Gold Coast had helped heal any wounds which may have been opened up by the Johns-Tahu affair.

The game was dragged through the mud earlier this year when NSW Origin assistant coach Johns made racial remarks aimed at Queensland centre Greg Inglis, slurs Tahu took obvious offence to.

Tahu quit the NSW camp immediately while Johns was stood down, the pair going some way to repairing their relationship with the help of Gooda, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

The NRL recently announced tough new measures to combat racism, including the provision to charge players with contrary conduct and the immediate standing down of any player or official involved in abuse.

"It's good to see the NRL's commitment to addressing these issues," Gooda said.

"There's got to be zero tolerance on racism ... decisive action is where they're aiming to go to next.

"They've strengthened the role of the NRL in intervening rather than waiting for a complaint to be made."

The close the gap round aims to highlight the inequality in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, with Canterbury and North Queensland to battle it out for the Reconciliation Cup on Saturday night.

Meanwhile more than 10,000 tickets have already been sold to next year's All-Stars game on February 12, which pits the NRL's best Indigenous players up against the best of the rest from the competition.

NRL chief executive David Gallop admitted to having some apprehension ahead of last year's inaugural fixture, but said the future of the concept was now beyond doubt.

"It certainly exceeded expectations," Gallop said.

"I think at the core of that was the way the players embraced the concept and the way the clubs embraced the concept.

"We all still got to the Saturday night thinking `I wonder if it will actually be fair dinkum ... but within the first few minutes I think everyone in the ground realised that the players were going to have a fair dinkum go.

"This game surpasses rugby league, it surpasses sport, it's become a celebration in the community."

ARL Indigenous Chairman William `Smiley' Johnstone said the All-Stars game was a unique event in Australian sport.

"The concept has been a great success in bringing about practical reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians," Johnstone said.

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