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Homophobic fine is wake-up call for rugby league

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George Riley George Riley | 21:20 UK time, Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The £40,000 fine given to Castleford Tigers for failing to prevent their supporters chanting homophobic abuse at Crusaders winger Gareth Thomas serves as a big wake-up call to rugby league.

Castleford acknowledge that homophobic chanting went on during the Super League game between the Tigers and the Crusaders at The Jungle on 26 March but strongly reject the Rugby Football League's ruling that they failed to act to prevent it.

They are adamant that the "evidence does not support the decision and does not in any way support the scale of the penalty" and are expected to appeal.

In the meantime, they have been warned that their fans are doing them "no favours" in their bid to retain a Super League licence.

thomas_blog_getty.jpgThomas is delighted that the RFL has taken such a strong stance - photo: Getty

The behaviour of Castleford supporters during a home defeat by the Catalans Dragons - fans threw bottles of beer and abused officials - led to a £20,000 fine last year. It was suspended but is now payable following this latest transgression.

I asked the RFL whether this latest incident will work against the Tigers when the Super League licences come up for renewal at the end of next season. The response is hardly going to soothe the ire of the West Yorkshire club towards the game's governing body.

"The behaviour of club supporters is one of our considerations in the licensing process," admits RFL spokesman John Ledger.

"It would be wrong to say Castleford getting a licence or not may hinge on this but the fans need to be aware they are doing the club no favours."

Yet this unfortunate incident poses far wider questions than that.

For a sport that prides itself on its family and equal-opportunities orientation, the story that emerged from The Jungle in March left an awfully bitter taste. The fine may not sound a lot to those who follow Premier League football millionaires but, to a sport that operates a strict £1.65m club salary cap, it isn't far off a Super League player's annual wage.

In just his second match of league since switching codes from rugby union, Crusaders wing Thomas received the type of abuse that cynics of the game feared possible for an openly gay player in a blue-collar sport. Yet anyone who knows the game knows that such abuse is very rare.

The player's silence in the immediate aftermath was dignified, as it has been this week. Thomas has ignored all media calls and has made no statement other than through his management company Distinct.

I spoke to both the player's agent, Emanuele Paladino, and the RFL at length in the hours after the fine was imposed on Tuesday, the first of its kind in rugby league. Castleford offered no further comment other than the strongly worded statement on their website.

From what I understand through our conversations, Thomas is delighted that the RFL has taken such a strong stance. The fine is irrelevant according to the player. But standing up to the homophobic bullying and chanting is vital.

I am told that Thomas believes that, in 2010, there should be no need for a gay person to have to endure what he did but he is happy to tread the path first if it makes it easier for future generations.

I was not at The Jungle on 26 March but, as a general observation, the ground is one of my favourites to visit. I also believe there is no larger a minority of idiots there than at any other ground in Super League.

It must also be noted, though, that Thomas has not had problems with the crowd at any other venues since his switch to league.

A Tigers statement describes the club this season as "one of the most pro-active in Super League when it comes to promoting a family friendly environment at the stadium, working hard all season to create an atmosphere within the stadium that is inclusive for all sections of the community".

But RFL spokesman Ledger tells me the scale of fine shows how seriously the sport's governing body views homophobia.

"Castleford and all Super League clubs need to be aware that the RFL continues to work tirelessly to make our sport available to ever member of society, regardless of age, ability, race, religion or sexual orientation.

"We pride ourselves in being a sport that's open to all but that doesn't include those who are racist, bigoted or homophobic."

It is indeed worth remembering that rugby league is the only sport signed up to the Stonewall diversity programme.

Of concern to Castleford, however, will be the impact this latest case may have on their relationship with the RFL.

I shall be sitting down for an exclusive chat with Gareth Thomas this week. You will be able to see the interview on the BBC News Channel and here on the BBC Sport website.

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Come on this isn't the West End where anything goes. This is a honest hardworking community that worships it club and sport. If the minority of people don't take to homosexuality why should the club be taken to task over it.
    There are plenty of times I have gone to away grounds and been called flat capper or whatever. Suppose that doesn't count when its against a lot of people.
    You make your bed and you lie in it. Working class sport, working class people, expect the working class response.
    As for the Rugby League they should think about what those people of Castleford have put into the sport over someone who is basically upping his pension pot!

  • Comment number 2.

    I am disgusted by this fine. Freedom of expression and a right to voice your opinion is a basic human right.

  • Comment number 3.

    Not the most eloquent of men when speaking, often overcome by emotion, but an excellent sportsman and a fine man. Nobody deserves such abuse, all sports need to crack down hard on discrimination and it's a credit to rugby league that the authorities show leadership by punishing clubs which allow ridiculously outdated prejudices to be aired.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well done RFL, hopefully this sends a message that these kinds of chants don't belong in today's society. I'm just disappointed that the club aren't using CCTV footage to charge those responsible like the Spurs fans that abused Sol Campbell were. Only then will the chants stop.

    As for the freedom of expression argument, surely a person has the right to live his life the way he sees fit without having to put up with abuse from people who don't like what he does behind closed doors. He isn't hurting anyone but the sort of reaction from those fans means other younger players who are homosexual may feel forced to hide themselves away when they shouldn't feel the need to. Hiding behind the freedom of expression argument is like saying fans who make monkey chants at black players are doing nothing wrong. That's wrong and so is abusing someone for their sexuality and it's time this sort of behaviour was taken out of all sports and all walks of life.

  • Comment number 5.

    So, bents & uuurrrzzz, I'm assuming that you'd have absolutely no problem if a minority of people didn't take to black people? Freedom of expression and a right to voice your opinion is a basic human right, even if it meant abusing black rugby players?

    I'd like to hope that you'd agree that racism is a bad thing and that black people should be allowed to play sport without abuse from fans. So why is homophobia an acceptable "working class response"?

    PJW

  • Comment number 6.

    Posts 1 & 2, how can chanting homophobic insults be considered acceptable? Racism has been rightly 'stamped out' of modern sport, and the same should be done for homophobia. Unlike race though, sexual orientation can be hidden, and players will only ever be able to live freely when the homophobia is taken out.

    If there is no strong resonse to these rediculous chants, how can sport move on? 2010 and still, sportsmen and women feel the need to hide their sexuality. Freedom of speech is brilliant, but it has been abused here. You have the freedom to say what you like, but abuse is abuse, and there should be consequences.

    And as for using the phrase "woking class people", just what are you saying? Working class people are narrow minded? Homophobic? Idiotic? I can't see how that is even slightly relevant here.

    I think the fine is appropriate.

  • Comment number 7.

    Bents, it's 2010, even in Castleford. It's okay to be gay.

    Also, not to lose the moral high ground, but your name is quite funny in this context.

  • Comment number 8.

    PS I go out in the West End, it's not nearly as exciting as you seem to think. I normally can't get a sniff from man, woman or beast.

  • Comment number 9.

    PPS was it hard telling your parents you wear flat caps? Okay last post I promise!

  • Comment number 10.

    I guess one reason the fine was so high was to make an example out of the first offender. And this is fantastic! I wish other sports were as forward thinking.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm intrigued by the reference to "working class", particularly "working class response" by the first writer. There are countless historical examples of the working class in many countries being at the forefront of social change, with or without support of trade unions. As a group, they've fought for the right to work, they've fought for environmental protection, they've fought equality of women in the workplace and they've fought for better conditions for minority groups.

    Granted, there are also examples of sub-groups who have been less than happy with these fights (women and ethnic groups have had a particularly tough time gaining equality), but I think it's unfair to suggest that working class people as a group should be labeled with a conservative reputation.

    Let the club be fined for the actions of a vocal, ignorant minority. Let them wonder why they should be fined. But don't lump them in with a group that has a proud legacy in social reform.

  • Comment number 12.

    People who're obsessed with other peoples' sexuality have got something to hide if you ask me.

  • Comment number 13.

    @1 Bents.

    Er, who appointed you as spokesman for the working class and what makes you think working class people are intolerant?

    "You make your bed and you lie in it." Deary me.

    Works both ways. "You sing that trash, you cough up the cash."

  • Comment number 14.

    As a Gay man and a Castleford Supporter I suppose I am caught between a rock and a hard place. I am glad that the RFL have challenged homophobia but I suggest that is this the first time this has happened to players not out, but thought to be gay. I realise that this is tough for Castleford but will the RFL do this to other clubs where homophobia occurs. As an aside it`s a shame that the RFL did not stamp as hard on abuses to the salary cap as they have on homophobia this might have meant the team at the top at present not being in the Super League, so when considering giving licences out will that not then been considered. The only thing I can say to Gareth as a Cas fan is I apologise that at Cas we have some idiots the alcohol must have got to them sorry mate and gareth next time your in Cas get in touch and I can show we are not all idiots

  • Comment number 15.

    Let me say immediately, I don't condone the 'abuse' and I have several gay friends - but am heterosexual. To say Thomas didn't get abuse at other grounds is misleading and a joke. But by the time he'd moved on he'd got the publicity he sought. To say Thomas has been dignified is also a joke. I've lost count of the number of TV shows and mag articles where he has appeared and offered his case as the new 'messiah' of the game(pioneer I think the word was). Is he about to write / publish a book I wonder! Perhaps if he'd been concentrating on the game and trying to get to grip with a new sport, he would not have heard the 15 or so idiots. His playing record since turning speaks for itself and has been irrelevant: the whole signing was a publicity stunt to increase Crusader gates and selfishly fatten the pension pot of someone over the hill.
    The Licence process has started and the RL have been looking for a scapegoat to remove from SL to allow Widnes to enter. So it's the small guy's to the wall and well done you loyal Cas supporters.
    It's strange that the crowd trouble at Leeds - Wigan and Leeds - Hull appears to have been overlooked or will there be a similar punishment !!
    The RL along with Sky have an agenda for expansion that precludes common sense and they will do anything, at the expense of the weak clubs, to achieve that aim.

  • Comment number 16.

    Interesting one this. Firstly, it's absolutely correct that this kind of behaviour cannot and should not be tolerated in modern society, however, the RFL have got to be consistent here. As a Rhinos supporter I get to a lot of Sunday Super League games when my team are not playing, and I'm sorry to say that the kind of behaviour that has been witnessed at Cas is by no means exclusive to their club. As George points, out, their are a minority of morons which follow every SL Club and excluding them all, will unfortunately be nigh-on impossible.

    It seems that in recent times Cas have been 'made an example of' for various misdemeanours, and this fine seems particularly heavy. Are they being manouvered out of the next round of licences?

  • Comment number 17.

    Freedom of expression is not an excuse to infringe on someone's freedom to live without fear of prejudice just because of their sexuality.

  • Comment number 18.

    "It must also be noted, though, that Thomas has not had problems with the crowd at any other venues since his switch to league." George Riley

    Gareth Thomas may not have heard homophobic chanting himself, but it has occured at other grounds. Wheras I do not back or support the practice of homosexuality in any form whatsoever, we as supporters need to wise us to the fact that due to equalities & diversity, homosexuality is widely accepted now. As individuals, you may not agree with it, as I do not, as the church does not, but if we are going to continue to show other sports that we are 'clean cut' we need to cut it out. I don't like the fact that the bloke is singled out or attacked. If the verbal attacks were 'hetrophobic' nothing would have been done as we can never be considered to be a victim.

  • Comment number 19.

    "Wheras I do not back or support the practice of homosexuality in any form whatsoever..."

    Would you therefore not "back or support" being black or Asian? Last time I looked, being gay was not a choice made... until people start to understand that all men are equal (as the church DOES) then I'll find it very hard believe this is even a rugby issue. Some people...

  • Comment number 20.

    "until people start to understand that all men are equal" cfcboy23

    That is your opinion and one that I do not share. You have no right to push your view of this on anyone. You speak as if it is rule, I give opinion, big difference there.

    Politics are the reason civil partnerships are allowed. There is nowhere in the bible that states homosexuality is an act created by God. The church basically puts up with the law, hence civil partnership and not marriage.

    But if you read my post again, you will see that I do not agree with the singling out of Gareth Thomas for abuse, regardless of my view on the practice.

  • Comment number 21.

    Let's start a raging religious debate...
    I wholeheartedly believe in God but cannot believe that people still think the bible is not flawed - however, it is your choice to feel otherwise. I just hoped that we had evolved enough to agree on this.
    That said, as (I'm guessing) a christian, how you can not view all men as equal is beyond me. Guess I'll have to live with that one.

  • Comment number 22.

    CFCBOY - you've used the word think. To follow the parts of the Bible you refer to requires a lack of thinking.

    A lot pf the comments, about backing homosexuality, or what you opinion is of it, are a typical stereotype of the reputation RL has, backward, stuck in the days of the REAL working class. People like RoversReturn hurt rugby league purely by following it.

  • Comment number 23.


    Rugby Union in Wales is as "blue-collar" as Rugby League in the North of England and yet Alfie coming out was warmly welcomed by the Union fraternity and he had little, if any, trouble with the crowds.

    We recognised his fantastic contribution to the sport and to the nation and his skills and abilities as a player, rather than his label as a "Gay Man".

    His sexuality was irrelevant. Indeed, it had been an open secret in the Valleys for some time before he confirmed it publically and he didn't get any abuse for it.

    If Alfie continues to get abuse he will be welcome back in Union anytime. League should be thankful for what they've got.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dear, dear me

    I think that most people's reaction when Thomas came out was "Yeah, and?". Helloooo 21st century here!!

    IMHO, the chanting although offensive is something that is prevelant at most SL grounds. Do the RFL honestly hold out parts of Humberside or Lancashire to be ground-breakingly tolerant on the subject of Gay rights? I don't recall any publicity surrounding Hull's gay pride march or any Wigan Stonewall meetings. I feel that Cas are being singled out as an easy target, with the abuse no different than what is heard from the South Stand at Leeds or the Knowsley Road shed.

    As a town, Cas has a number of gay pubs and bars, and I sure that Thomas would be welcomed if he drops in for a pint next season. The fine is ridiculous posturing from the RFL trying to make a point, when a more educative approach would be a more worthwhile exercise

  • Comment number 25.

    BTW, would the RFL now be fining St Helens for calling Wigan Pie eaters, Leeds for calling Hull Cod heads and London for comments about being grim up North?

    Presumably, nobody speaks French or Welsh at the RFL...

  • Comment number 26.

    Re-communicated... you've confused me slightly but I think I get the gist. I'm no social/religious commentator but I know I detest bigotry in any form.
    "backward, stuck in the days..." a bit like religion really.

  • Comment number 27.

    I see alot of lot of people taking the moral high ground and condemning Castleford. However unlike most i feel i am better equipt to talk about this incident better than most having been present at the game when it occurred. To many in the ground the chanting was extremely difficult to hear and I'm surprised that Thomas could hear having spent nearly 70 mins sat on the bench near the other end of the pitch. A previous poster mentioned CCTV and i can tell you the club did use CCTV to move some people on. Another issue is it was carried out by a minority of youths that no doubt the police wouldnt considered old enough or worth prosecuting. In this day and age knowone can condone homophobic chanting, but what sickens me the most is this historic day rubbish coming from the RFL and Thomas' management. There is nothing to celebrate and this has brought shame upon the sport! Long have Castleford been renowned as being a huge part of rugby league heritage and the club is the heartbeat of the town, now we are parading as bottle throwing homophobes which is totally unfair. Incidents such as bottle, coin and flair throwing, obscene chanting towards officials, has been reported in newspapers and goes unpunished and is largely available on live tv coverage, i hope the RFL begin to clamp down on this. I think many Cas fans feel victims as much as Thomas. I would appreciate George if you could ask Mr Thomas whether he thinks his media profile is represented in the fine? I believe so. The RFL comments by John Ledger in regards to Stonewall Charter serve only as an attempt at positive PR. The RFL want to make Rugby League the forefront of the news and say 'we wont stand for it'. However, I look at it and think why would any outsider want to get into rugby league with these issues. Comments by Thomas like "The first abuse i received was in rugby league" appear in many media forms and discredits the sport. Finally what good does a fine do? People unaware of Castleford will not realise the knock on effect that will occur. Walk around the town and everyone you will meet will be connected with club be it fan, volunteer, worker, youth player etc. Having family connected with the youth system it concerns me that this money will be diverted from this area leaving kids without ambition or opportunity to develop and showcase their skills while stuck in an area with few other prospects. Surely the RFL should be working with the club closely, after all its the response they've been fined for and it was the methods recommended by the RFL they used to combat the behaviour, maybe the RFL should take a long hard look at themselves and invest in research in how to to counteract these situations because their methods have appeared useless. Sorry for the long winded post just had to get it off my chest.

  • Comment number 28.

    Cowards hide in the anonymity of a crowd. GT stopped hiding, show him some respect.

  • Comment number 29.

    uuurrrzzz - do you not agree freedom of expression has limits?
    chuckly - couldn't agree more.
    lee fett - who should take responsibility - the fans or the club for stewarding of the fans?

  • Comment number 30.

    cfcboy23, did you really write these two sentences back-to-back?

    "I'm no social/religious commentator but I know I detest bigotry in any form.
    "backward, stuck in the days..." a bit like religion really."

    Yes, it appears you did, and with not a flicker of irony. I think there's some sort of proverb here to do with pots and kettles, if only I could think of it.

  • Comment number 31.

    buymepresso - the RFL were keen to point out to me that this is not a precedent-setter - it's in keepign with their hardline to homophobic behaviour
    gattmibbs - the cynics and knockers of rugby league will indeed say that such abuse was inevitable in a bluecollar support - what dopes that saay about us and our society?
    andrewbourne - lovely message, and as I say in the blog The Jungle is one of my favourite grounds to visit and Cas should not be identified as unique offenders when it comes to idiotic fans

  • Comment number 32.

    Not the place for a religious debate, but yes of course people are created equal. Not agreeing with something doesn't automatically mean discrimination, otherwise that's a very dangerous road. There are abusive and homophobic people around who need to be called out, but we shouldn't throw this label at anyone who doesn't agree because of (for example) their faith. Otherwise, you replace one form of discrimination or bigotry with another one - like for example calling religion backward. It seems that anyone with faith is increasingly smeared simply because they hold different views. This is just as offensive and harmful as being abusive towards someone because they are gay. Tolerance has to work in every direction in order to be tolerance. All the best to Gareth Thomas.

  • Comment number 33.

    Now THAT is offensive... Dave you've over-stepped the mark now!
    Can I remind you all - as a proud Yorkshireman - Humberside was abolished in 1996...

  • Comment number 34.

    Sorry CFC - I am merely a bigotted, uneducated Northerner, dragged up in the gutters around Cas, having to work 25 hours a day before putting on my flat cap, going to bed in my puddle covered by cardboard keeping warm next to my whippet while eating Hovis sandwiches with my Tetley's.

  • Comment number 35.

    "His sexuality was irrelevant. Indeed, it had been an open secret in the Valleys for some time before he confirmed it publically and he didn't get any abuse for it."

    Absolutely true (as is your comment about Wales RU being 'blue collar') - it was known the whole time I lived in Wales (94-00) and nobody cared.

    As a lifelong Cas fan I'm ashamed to see this sort of behavour at a club that I love and one that generally has a great family atmosphere.

    And for a club in so much danger of losing it's SL licence, it's little short of madness, especially after the incident last year.

  • Comment number 36.

    I believe the fine to be perfectly ok, if they are going to crack down on misdameaners then they need to start somewhere and what has happened in this case warrents as good a place to start as any. I dont think that class has anything what so ever to do with the matter, Im a City Reds fan & very much from a working class background, I am not religious in anyway what so ever, nor am I racest - I am a white Englishman, I do not believe homosexuality to be a natural thing but that doesnt matter as I do believe that everyone should have a right to live there lives the way they wish so long as it has no adverse affects on anybody elses lives, without having to suffer abuse from anybody else for there sexuality, race, class or otherwise ..... just let people be! All men should be equal - until they do wrong unto others - what goes around comes around.

  • Comment number 37.

    Sorry Tim, you completely missed my "irony font" there... I'll try 'lol' next time, if it helps. That's the trouble with the written word - interpretation. Can you sense my withering-ness to it all?
    I defy anyone to never ever contradict themselves - I certainly am no smarty-pants like you - but I purposely used "bit like" to allow for the fact I have strong religious beliefs but appreciate the flaws that I also see in the bible.
    Peoples beliefs are the bed-rock of society and personal development and achievement... until - as other posters have rightly said - it results in abuse.
    Grow up...

  • Comment number 38.

    Personally I think the fine is quite harsh for the club. Every club has a few idiots in the crowd - it is an unfortunate aspect of most large spectator sports - and if clubs were fined every time someone shouted something they'd all be bankrupt. How many times has the ref's parentage or personal habits been called into question? I definately thing that action had to be taken and clubs IN ALL SPORTS need to know that this sort of thing isn't acceptable and that they need to have procedures in place to deal with it, but question whether this is the correct punishment for the crime. I don't for a minute believe Cas is the only place where he has received stick and I also find it hard to believe he's only received it whilst playing RL.

    Another fact to take into account is that Thomas is the first person of either code to come out as being homosexual. Racism is something that has been in the limelight for a long time but how much time has been spent by the clubs and governing bodies educating the fans on homosexuality? THIS IN NO WAY EXCUSES OR JUSTIFIES THOSE WHO SHOUTED THE ABUSE. It is simply a statement of fact that the majority of focus has always been on race rather than sexuality.

    Being 'blue collar' has nothing to do with bigotry. Surely people who somehow suggest that it has are as culpable of prejudice?

    At the end of the day, who cares what someone does in the bedroom? I'm sorry but if you insist on going to the press about something so private and personal unfortunately, despite the fact that we live in an 'enlightened' society you're opening yourself up to the fact that some people might not like it.

  • Comment number 39.

    @18 - rovers return......

    "homosexuality is widely accepted now. As individuals, you may not agree with it, as I do not, as the church does not."

    Don't be daft. The church practically invented homosexuality. It certainly does not condemn it. In 2003, the Church of England announced the appointment of Jeffrey John, a priest living in a celibate domestic partnership with another man, as the Suffragan Bishop of Reading. His appointment was supported by none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury. Many Anglican traditionalists reacted strongly and John eventually withdrew his application before he had been formally elected. John was later appointed as the Dean of St Albans instead. So with the knowledge and support of one of THE heads of the church an openly gay man, living with his partner under 'gods roof' is appointed to a position of religious responsibility. That's hardly the church "not agreeing" is it?

    Anyway - back to rugby. How can homophobic chanting help your team win? It's bizarre to believe this can be anything other than counter productive. It's not funny, it's not clever and it's simply not helpful to the team you pay money to go and "support". Duh.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think alot of people miss the point, mainly through poor journalism that Cas HAVE NOT been fined for abusive chanting, but FINED FOR the clubs immediate response to it. A response which consisted of procedures and methods recommended and provided for by the RFL!!!!! Thats what stinks.

  • Comment number 41.

    #15: "The Licence process has started and the RL have been looking for a scapegoat to remove from SL to allow Widnes to enter."

    And herein lies the problem. You are exactly right in what you say. As a Widnes fan myself, I will be able to sympathise greatly with Castleford fans, if/when they are made a scapegoat of the licensing process, despite the fact that there are clubs clearly living beyond their means and being propped up by mysterious funds from somewhere.

    Wigan's salary cap breach, Hull fielding an ineligible player in the Challenge Cup and Leeds crowd troubles - all cases of big clubs getting off with little fines/punishments.

    As soon as one of the less prestigious clubs (and that's no disrespect to Castleford) step out of line, they are hit down upon. And this is the increasing problem that the licensing system is promotion - it's creating an establishment, it's almost creating a class divide between the "chosen few" and the "stragglers".

  • Comment number 42.

    Well done to the RFL on this. It would be nice to think that other sports such at football would treat homophobia in the same light and take firm action against people who are stuck in the dark ages. If it makes other clubs and fans sit up and take notice of it as a serious issue that needs to be stamped out then it can only be a good thing in the long run.

  • Comment number 43.

    Just like to point out that thomas is not the first person to come out while still playing. The australian forward Ian Roberts came out while still pro in australia. Be interesting to know what his experiences were.

  • Comment number 44.

    It's a shame so much of the media reporting is taking the negative stance,"Cas fined" rather then the more positive approach that the RFL has signed up to wipe out homophobia in league.

    Rugby League has long lead the way with positive images, and is to be applauded for their tough stance on dealing with LGBT issues is the sport.

    Who cares if someone is gay, all that matters is how they play! Gareth Thomas has taken a big leap in joining League from Union, and is to be applauded for the steps he has taken in his first season of playing the greatest game. I couldn't care less if he is gay or whatever else he does, but what matters is he gives his all to the sport, he gives his all to his team, and when he plays against Hull KR he has a total nightmare.

    Good luck to him!

  • Comment number 45.

    Ridiculous outcome – just tiresome nonsense from the administrators to make a “we’re inclusive and diverse” statement.

    Interestingly you’ll hear every player get abuse at some point but as a general rule players just get on with it. What if the player is bald – do you think the crowd will mention it......... er yes. What if the player is short or overweight ....... undoubtedly it may be mentioned. Are the administrators going to fine teams if their fans are ‘sizeist’ or ‘baldist’? pathetic!

    I cannot accept “the comments from the crowd were upsetting” when Thomas has been telling everyone who’ll listen (TV, radio, newspapers) that he’s gay and trying to be some kind of standard bearer or “pioneer” for gays – he is then surprised when people shout out a fact they he has been stating for months! I don’t suppose the thought of him getting paid for these interviews crossed his mind!
    Perhaps instead of this self promotion he could have been sensible and just said he’s gay but it won’t affect his outlook or career – people would have been much more respectful of that stance.

    Before the PC brigade jump down my throat I would like them to consider a comparison –In the case of certain footballers, let’s say John Terry, they are rightly chastised for playing away, putting themselves and their family at risk etc.
    In the case of Thomas he was, by his own admission, whilst away in France cruising gay bars to pick up men whilst his wife was at home – whether he was putting himself or his wife at risk by the behaviour is up to you decide.

    In the instance of Terry he quite rightly regarded as a selfish idiot being unfair on his family – yet bizarrely it appears a gay man doing the same thing is not only considered acceptable but is held up as some kind peoples champion ................. now if that isn’t double standards I don’t know what is!!

    Let the PC brigade ensue................

  • Comment number 46.

    waspsbathsomewhere

    Good but misplaced comparison... hopefully I can comment as a Chelsea fan but JT has been rightly chastised for being an idiot and a cheat as you stated.
    I don't know the details of the Thomas incident but I very much doubt the chants went along the lines of "we don't like you because you cheated on your wife...". This issue is all about homophobic behaviour is it not and can therefore be only compared to other instance of homophobia?

  • Comment number 47.

    46. At 3:23pm on 30 Jun 2010, cfcboy23 wrote:

    waspsbathsomewhere

    Good but misplaced comparison... hopefully I can comment as a Chelsea fan but JT has been rightly chastised for being an idiot and a cheat as you stated.
    I don't know the details of the Thomas incident but I very much doubt the chants went along the lines of "we don't like you because you cheated on your wife...". This issue is all about homophobic behaviour is it not and can therefore be only compared to other instance of homophobia?
    --------------------------------------------------------------


    Homophobic chanting is clearly wrong and there is absolutely no place for it in the game.

    Having said that I wonder how long it'll take for a pro-adultery charity to be set up and someone to be accused of being adulterophobic or perhaps monogophobic?

    Adding -ophobic to the end of anything makes it legally a crime (a little known law brought in in 1998 ;-)).

  • Comment number 48.



    George

    its all very well trying to put both sides view and good for you for doing that - but do you think its good what the RFL have done - you dont actually say - im all against any discrimination of whatever type - but the RFL to my mind have too been too hard on Cas as a club who like any organisation cannot physically control the actions of any individual to the absolute-

    Regrettable as this incident is - The fine is too high - im sure Mr Thomas like all of us wants justice to be seen to be done and any punishment appropriate -







  • Comment number 49.

    Cococin - having spent this afternoon with Gareth I can assure people he does not want to see Cas getting into trouble. It's just about the message for him, not the fine.
    re the RFL - yes I think they have made a bold but correct step - it is not singling out Cas - it is not any vendetta against the club, they are acting on the volume of complaints received - indeed the match commissioner I understand didn't include the incident in his report at the time, it was the subsequents complaints that promptyed the investigation. The RFL's stance is firm and clear and i applaud it. It is impossible for me to say whether the club did enough to prevent what happened .. .we can debate that points for hours, and that is obviously why the Tigers are so unhappy. They are a terrific family club and will be hurting at this

  • Comment number 50.

    Enough has been said about Thomas milking the situation for his own benefit. Yes, it was wrong but why didn't he feel upset at the other grounds where he received the same type of comments. It's funny that he can be quite happy for his team mates (and presumably his own fans) to refer to him as a female, but it's different when the publicity doesn't suit. Under normal circumstances the case would have been not allowed to go ahead because of all the prejudicial media hype and the self pontificating of the 'injured'party. Cleary Thomas has been led on by his agent for non other than their own financial gains.

    But the point here is how the RFL has handled the situation. If there was to be a hearing they should have told Thomas to stop his self- publicity and continual whinging. It would appear to be the case that when Wigan broke the salary cap rules, Cas were asked by the RL to withdraw their legal action on the promise of the award of a Super League licence. Subsequently, when Widnes were wrongly not awarded a licence on the strength of Crusaders 'excellent submission', they were probably asked to drop their objections on the promise they would get into SL at the next licence applications. The RL need a scapegoat and the opportunity is being given them to use Cas as the scapegoat to further their (and Sky's)obsession with expansion.

  • Comment number 51.


    George

    thanks for your feedback and relaying Gareths views - very nice to see

    Can i give you what is undoubtedly to my mind at least a punishment handed down by a COURT OF LAW for the offence of racist and homophobic chanting at Sol Campbell in 2009

    The offences took place at Fratton Park and 2 of those charged and received a 3 year ban and a £500 fine - Portsmouth assisted the police by providing tapes of the crowd and werent charged by the Premier league or the FA

    Those punishments seemed light to me- so is the law of the land wrong or are the RFL tribunal excessive in their punishment !!!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    George,on the 25th of July the Tigers fans will be having there annual fancy dress outing,it will be held down in Neath when the Tigers play the Crusaders.Can you ask Gareth,his manager and the RFL which outfits we can wear without upsetting anyone.

  • Comment number 53.

    George - how many of the complaints made after the event came after Thomas went public with his grievence?

    As a nation we do have previous when it comes to people jumping on the bandwagon for this kind of thing despite not being there/hearing the chants - the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand incident spring to mind where the complaints only started in earnest when the press made a big deal of it.

    This doesn't of course justify it but are the club being punished for the actions of a few mindless idiots because of the high profile of Thomas? Would the same fine have been given if it had been a less well known player and that player hadn't then gone to the national papers about it? Would the national press even have bothered if Thomas wasn't so high profile?

    Whilst I agree with the RFL taking a strong stance in this case, it's got to be a concern that they're setting a precedent that could effectively kill any sort of chanting and banter on the terraces that could in some way be considered offensive to people. Where is it going to end? I don't know exactly what was said/shouted/sung during the Cas game but by the sounds of it, it was pretty bad, but taking that aside, some of the most memorable chants I have heard are when someone is having the mickey taken out of them and I've rarely heard it done in anything other than jest - whether that is aimed at a player, team or their fans. Is this now at risk as well as it may offend some people?

    The RFL also seem to be saying that this could be taken into account when it comes to licence renewel which also seems to be a very dubious thing to claim - will the same thing happen if Leeds or Saints or Wigan fans get caught saying something they shouldn't? Could some of the big names in SL end up being excluded from the competion in future? Are the clubs going to decide that having fans is just too much of a risk and start playing games behind closed doors?

    Yes it is something you don't want to see in the game and it's something that needs to be addressed but it's not a prevelant as casual racism used to be in football and rugby and would the RFL have been better educating the clubs as to how to deal with it if it occurs rather than going in with a big stick from the start?

    Unfortunately Rugby League is now tarnished and it's incredibly unfair as the average RL crowd is one of the nicest, friendliest bunches of people you could find. We don't have segregation in grounds and can drink before and after the game in the same pubs because we get on and don't feel the need to start scrapping. Yes, there's banter but there is never really any animosity whether you support Cas, Leeds, Saints, Bradford...

  • Comment number 54.

    George.

    Too little and too late I'm afraid for your comments to have any credence.
    Are you serious that the Cas supporters complained about themselves !! There certainly wasn't enough Crusaders supporters there to have created a 'volume' of complaints. Thomas has spent too much time ( presumably with your advice) rubbishing the "Cas 15" or so without any reference to similar comments at other grounds, for you to say it was not a vendetta. His contradictory comments regarding what his own team mates homophobically call him, make nonsense of his stance.
    Whilst I agree the comments made were pathetic and unnecessary, partly because of his (and your) publicity hype, "..a terrific family club..." have been taken to the cleaners and it's 7,000 + loyal and fair supporters have been tarred with a discriminatory brush and probably doomed to National Rugby League. I hope you and Thomas enjoy that thought each time you sell another interview or one of his forthcoming books.
    In reality he is a spent force in the sport and should have bowed out gracefully instead of milking a situation to support an otherwise dwindling career. It would appear from your action that the game of Rugby League means nothing to Thomas (or you) other than a source of easy income. If this really is all he (and yourself) have to offer the sooner he accepts retirement it will be better for the game. Even the Crusader crowds are begining to realise the shallow exploitation of the signing.
    The RL's stance certainly is firm and clear and you (and Thomas)really can do little else but applaud it as you initiated it. But I'm afraid that Thomas's (and your) lack of understanding of the game and it's politics have failed to realise what the consequences of his (and your) selfish actions have caused. As I said, too little and too late. A pathetic effort to try and regain some respectability.

  • Comment number 55.

    rlfan58, cracking post (54). I see Mr. Thomas has given yet another interview today, to which George Riley and the BBC seem only too happy to give far too much column space in supporting. This is all getting way too far out of proportion and is doing the sport no favours whatsoever.

    It's beginning to smack of a cheap publicity stunt for a player in the twilight of his career.

  • Comment number 56.

    The RFL is a hypocritical organisation, in the extreme. I will come back to this point.

    A small number of fans chanted at Gareth Thomas. this is a matter of name calling, nothing more. Thomas did not complain to the Castleford club or the RFL at the time. Instead he went to the press some time later. Why would he do this unless he wanted to make a big issue of it? He admits he laughed off the chanting at the time.

    The Castleford club cannot be held responsible for a few idiots mouthing off. They could not have been expected to send hordes of stewards in to the crowd asking who had said what. If there was any CCTV footage with sound that could have identified those responsible, then no doubt the club would have acted retrospectively.

    Tannoy announcements were made during the game, as they are at a lot of SL games where crowds are more prone to bad language.

    The RFL is only taking this action because Thomas is high profile and went to the press. If the RFL were consistent many fines like this would have been handed out to several clubs whose fans have breached the Respect policy.

    To put this matter into context, let's look at two major breaches of RFL Operational Rules that the RFL has done nothing about. One generated huge national coverage and brought the whole game into disrepute. 6 illegal workers were employed by a rugby league club and were consequently deported. These workers had work visas registered with the RFL, and the visas they had should have been the same as all visas granted to other full time professional players. No one at the RFL has been disciplined or even held to account for this incredible lack of due diligence, and the RFL has taken no action whatsoever against the club concerned.

    A chairman of one club wanted to buy another. he was allowed to do this provided he sold his shares in the other after a maximum of two years. This was a special exemption to the RFL Operational Rules, given because one club is an expansion club.

    The two year deadline passed last October, but the individual concerned has not sold his shares in the club he left. He therefore has controlling shares in two SL clubs but the RFL is doing nothing to enforce Operational Rules or the clause it allowed.

    Gareth thomas plays for an expansion club, the club whose shares should have been sold by last October is an expansion club.

    The RFL is a hypocritical, incompetent organisation that is desperate for some positive publicity and is using Castleford Tigers as a convenient whipping boy. Of course the RFL may well also be looking to cut a club or two to include another expansion club next time round and looking for whatever reasons it can to create a case for exclusion.

  • Comment number 57.

    Probably worth remembering that your views on Thomas have no bearing on this debate. Whatever his agenda in crossing codes and coming out, an offence occurred and it has been punished. Is the punishment harsh? That all depends on the lengths to which Cas went to address the matter at the time and I'm not fit to comment on that. They clearly think it is over the top and that is why they have a right of appeal. Lets see that run its course before we can come to any firm conclusions.

    For what its worth, Thomas has come in for some criticism here for pursuing his own selfish agenda, lining his pockets, attracting publicity etc. As far as I can see, one high profile rugby league player (regardless of whether he is any good) being openly gay in the sport is hardly being self serving. If anything, he may be opening doors for other gay players who have previously shied away from the sport. Yes, I'd wager that he is turning a coin through this process. If he were exploiting his sexuality to do this I would feel uncomfortable, however I don't know the man well enough to judge and have always regarded him as a top pro and a decent bloke. Besides, there's no law against making money is there?

    Finally, as a Christian I would like to point out that not all Christians believe the same thing. Personally I do believe in the words of the Bible but also feel that they need to be interpretted correctly and in context. Many of the unambiguous, hellfire and brimstone messages about homosexulatity in the Bible carry less weight when placed in their context (some of them come alongside other laws that suggest women should remain inside for the duration of their period). I do not believe homosexuality is a sin. Other Christians may disagree. The truth is that none of us will truly know until we've popped our clogs. The greater sin amongst the majority of Christians is that they have the audacity to think they know what God is thinking at all times!

  • Comment number 58.

    George, I wonder what message Gareth Thomas is trying to put across. How do you know the RFL isn't out to nail Cas by using them as an example?

    During his many years in Rugby Union he felt unable to be open about his sexuality. What does that say about Rugby Union?

    He came out and moved to league. A few idiots took the mickey with a few very short lived chants and he goes running to the press.

    Personally I couldn't care what Garteh Thomas does in his private life and would never pass comment towards him or believe he should be discriminated against, even though I find his behaviour disgusting, but he decided to tell the world about it. He's very welcome in Rugby league as far as I am concerned.

    The reaction of a few Castleford fans was regrettable, but in the context of the occasion it was nothing more than banter aimed at an opposing player who wanted the world to know about his sexuality.

    I would draw the line at racist comments towards anyone, but you can hear everything and anything else at rugby league games, very often on Sky television, and the RFL does absolutely nothing.

    it's the rank hypocrisy of the RFL that really gets me angry here, and Thomas is only too willing to play along to serve his own self interest.

    I have lost a lot of respect for Gareth Thomas after this.

  • Comment number 59.

    To answer your question from post 29 George I think it has to be a bit of both. I mean most stewarding is proactive because obviously you can't deal with a problem of crowd trouble or chanting until it actually happens. But once it does I think it should be a zero tolerance approach and those found to be involved should be banned from the ground. Its up to the club to educate as well and ensure everyone in the ground knows they won't tolerate any sort of homophobic or biggoted chanting. And it's then up to the fans themselves to realise their actions do no good to anyone. No-one's telling them they have to like the way someone chooses to live their life but just because they don't like it it doesn't give them the right to abuse someone for it. I expect people wouldn't like aspects of their lives but they don't go around abusing them for it.

  • Comment number 60.

    Some fantastic comments on this guys. Some very disappointing ones also. Indeed sadly I think some of the comments posted on here say more about our game than the blog itself.
    rlfan58 I take great exception to your comments. Is that a genuine suggestion that I got together with Gareth Thomas to hype up and create a big story out of nothing?!! Rugby League means nothing to me? Have you ever followed any of my work over the years? If you're interested I met Thomas for the first time in my life yesterday after securing the interview. As a journalist you live for moments when you are able to secure exclusive interviews. Having spent years championing our great game, there are occasions when you have to cover the more controversial stories that could harm the sport you love. That is not enjoyable, and you risk stepping on toes of those in the game that you work with and respect. But it is my job, and I will not ignore a story for the risk of upsetting people by doing it. The response to the story speaks volumes.
    re the complaints...The RFL have confirmed to me that the complaints came from "people at the game." Whether they came from Cas fans, Crusaders fans, or indeed officials, I could not say. I was not there, and I would not speculate. That is a matter for the RFL.

  • Comment number 61.

    Lee Fett ... couldn't agree more, I guess there's got to be shared responsibility but that is definitely easier said than done

  • Comment number 62.

    I was at the game in question and make no bones about saying I'm a Cas fan, and proud to be so. There were two separate chants that I heard directed at Thomas and his team makes. One was sexually explicit and homophobic and totally out of order in a family environment. The other was banter, almost friendly and no worse that has been shouted by fans at all clubs at Barry Mac for his glass eye or Lee Crooks for his larger physique. Come on RFL don’t try and tell people what to think!
    I am very disappointed with Thomas himself. He only came out after the end of his Union career. Why if is okay to be gay didn’t he do it sooner? It’s not for me to say when someone should come out, but if Thomas kept it a secret for so long it looks like he was ashamed or that he couldn’t cope with being out in Union. If gay people were honest about there sexuality they would get more respect and chants like the ones at the Jungle would be a thing of the past.

  • Comment number 63.

    George.
    I do owe you an apology. I genuinely thought you were Thomas’s agent – and I’m not being facetious. I would have taken out the comments (54) about your complicity to his self-seeking and egotisitical actions had I realised, and of course the comment that RL means nothing to you. Having said that, everything I said is still relevant. However, as you say it is your job to dish the dirt and blow the consequences. More balanced reporting would have made your article and subsequent comments appear more perceptive and less prejudiced.

    Thomas hardly needs support as he has for several months been putting his own tainted version of the actual circumstances to the media et al at every opportunity – incidentally prejudicing the fair outcome of any hearing. How you can say he has acted in a dignified way beggars belief! His contradictions are incredible and are changed to suit his circumstances. For example in his BBC interview yesterday, was he afraid or wasn’t he afraid? If afraid, what was he afraid of? These types of terrace comments have been made for years – are gay’s a special case? Most true professionals that have commented since this sordid affair have stated that it simply drives them to do better and prove their worth on the field.

    The RFL clearly have an agenda to use the opportunity to make a point at the expense of a small club and resolve the issue of who they drop from Super League at the next licence review. Perhaps you could investigate the hypochrisy of the RL why abusive chants are made at numerous games that go unpunished IE: the several hundred at least of the Warrington crowd at last weekend Leeds game (as heard plainly on Sky ) who questioned the referees parents. That really would be a situation where you could confirm “I will not ignore a story for the risk of upsetting people by doing it.” You could carry on and ask the RL when an insult is a ‘proper’ insult or just normal terrace chanting. Are fat or black or gypsies or criminals outside the rules? Of course I could go on here and the list would be endless. Although it was a slip of the tongue, the RL official following the hearing made it quite clear that the issue would be taken into account at the awarding of the next licence.

    The only party who have acted with any dignity in this grimy business is the Cas Tigers management team who have remained quiet hoping for a just and fair hearing. Perhaps if and when they decide to appeal and put their case forward as to why they feel harshly dealt with, you could ask them for an ‘exclusive’ and get some balanced views.

    However, as you say, you have to live for the moment but maybe less opportunism and more depth would be appropriate. The response to the story has been significant – about 50 : 50 on either side I would think. I think that that is quite significant when bearing in mind that all of the rugby world, excluding Cas, will be relieved that it was Cas that Thomas and the RL decided to victimise for something that all of them have been guilty of at some time. If you don’t agree with that, with respect, you are either naive or have never been to a rugby match. If your comment that Thomas has had no problems at other grounds in fact means there has not been any similar abuse, then you are seriously misled.
    Yes, I am a Cas supporter and No, I do not agree with what was said at the game, although I have to be honest and say that I didn’t hear anything- probably at the wrong (or right) end. Not suprising really when we are talking about a handful in 5,000+. Thomas obviously has very good hearing if it upset him and made him afraid! But I hate injustice and there is nothing I have heard or seen so far that gives any indication that the punishment fits the crime. I was at the game – you were not and your reporting has shown subjective bias which appears to be intended only to be opportunistic. Thomas should be proud that he has brought the game into disrepute, probably cost 2 peoples jobs and rubbished a proud and historic town and its team for nothing but his own selfish publicity.

  • Comment number 64.

    This fine hopefully send a message to ALL fans of RL.
    I take my Son to watch Rugby, but not football because its a family friendly atmosphere that I am comfortable with him being in.
    I dont want him or my wife surrounded by morons abusing a player because of his sexuality!
    Morons will drag our game to the level of football and ruin it if we dont put a stop to it ASAP.

  • Comment number 65.

    Congratulations on getting your dscoop george. A scoop that is based on nothing more than a gay man wanting to bleat to the press because a few nasty people called him names. What a huge in depth piece you have been able to generate. Thomas doesn't say what was said to him, he didn't complain and nor did anyone at the game.

    The RFL has concocted the 'people at the game line to cover itself in glory with it's right on stance on being tough.

    Incredible how the RFL has not fined, for example, the St Helens club for the foul mouthed abuse it's fans can be regularly heard chanting towards the referee, often in front of a large TV audience. This and many other breaches of the Respect policy go unpunished.

    Why didn't Thomas go through the proper channelks and lodge a complaint rather than mouthing off to the press?

    If Thomas had any problem he could have addreesed the fans himself in an appropriate manner. I'll give you two examples of how I have seen players deal with abuse from fans. many years ago Tom David played for Cardiff Blue Dragons and I was at a game at Ninian Park where he was getting stick from away fans behind the sticks. Every time points were conceded and the Blue Dragons were behind the sticks, the abuse was aimed at him. Eventually Tom David turned round to the fans involved and challenged them to climb over the fencing and say it to him up close and personal. They soon shut up and in fact cheered him for handling them the way he did.

    Another oen concerns Henderson Gill, who was getting stick when playing on the wing for Wigan. It wasn't racist abuse, but he got it every time he came to the corner of the ground. Gilly turned to the fans concerned and simply said 'I'm not going home with losing pay this afternoon, your heroes are'. same result from the fans who had a laugh with him and respected him immensely for the banter, which then stopped.

    Now if Thomas had, for example, blown a kiss at the few having a go, or patted his backside and smiled, they wouldn't have known what to do with themselves and would have shut up pretty quick.

    The way Thomas has gone about this smacks of wanting to play the victim to what was nothing more than name calling.

    The Cas fans were indulging in chanting that may well not have been what Thomas wanted to hesr, but it is no worse than what is aimed at many players and referees.

    Sorry Garethm but though I welcome you to the sport, I have no respect for you as a person due to the way you have handled this.

  • Comment number 66.

    re comments 1 and 2 ... staggering.
    re comment 58 .. I couldn't care what Garteh Thomas does in his private life and would never pass comment towards him or believe he should be discriminated against, even though I find his behaviour disgusting." ... hmm, I think you may have just passed comment towards him there!

  • Comment number 67.

    George I can understand your reactions, what if you are gay as I am and this is what is considered acceptable would you ever go to a rugby league match probably not I do not go that often due to cost and work commitments, I work nights. The RFL though signed up to the Stonewall commitment needs a lot of work however rather than just fining Cas what outreach has the RFL done to involve those of us who are gay to be involved in promoting the Stonewall principles. A simple way would be for the RFL to go into gay pubs etc in Rugby League towns they are there to recruit people to volunteer gay people who are rugby league fans to promote this issue, obviously this would need to be done with care. However, if the RFL is truly committed to eradicating homophobia this is a way forward. George if you wish to do this directly with me I am sure the BBC have my e-mail. There is one truth from this greater light has shone forth

  • Comment number 68.

    eggchaser1977 wrote:

    Rugby Union in Wales is as "blue-collar" as Rugby League in the North of England and yet Alfie coming out was warmly welcomed by the Union fraternity and he had little, if any, trouble with the crowds.

    His sexuality was irrelevant. Indeed, it had been an open secret in the Valleys for some time before he confirmed it publically and he didn't get any abuse for it.

    If Alfie continues to get abuse he will be welcome back in Union anytime. League should be thankful for what they've got.
    I totally agree eggchaser1977 and as for the first 2 comments, I find them both repulsive and staggering!

  • Comment number 69.

    Cas applauded for diversity. http://www.castigers.com/article.php?id=874

  • Comment number 70.

    Spot on Red365 (68): “ His sexuality is irrelevant.” But it’s only Thomas that has made it appear relevant. The ‘abuse’ was no different to the ‘banter’ that many of your countrymen have had since turning to RL – and in over 50 years I’ve seen some great Welch players. The difference here is that Thomas has milked the situation for his own benefit. Why should gays be a special case?? Any abusive, insulting chants should be punished on the basis of this ruling which would in reality mean that all SL clubs will become bankrupt and eventually be demoted to NL1 by the RL, which of course is the whole point in this case.
    His fellow countrymen predecessors have simply proved the morons to be what they are and have provided the answer on the field. Unfortunately, Thomas is clearly past his best as his performances have shown, but at 35 that’s no surprise.
    The question then of course is why make the change at that age to a much more physically demanding sport – I’ll let you answer that !! Even he said he had to do more work in one game in RL than he would do in half a season in RU, or words to that effect. That’s not degrading RU – the game is great in its own right.
    As for welcoming him back to RU – please take him, but would a club be willing to pay for a has been trouble maker on the scrounge. You could also ask yourself why he came to RL and why it was that no one in RU would employ him ?? His only contribution to RL has been to create bad publicity for the game and to pander to his own selfish needs.

    George: thanks for the positive in (69)! There's a lot more where that came from - but of course that doesn't make headlines. Perhaps it's your start at redressing the balance ?? You could also support your ethics as stated in (60) and dig the dirt on the RL hypochrisy, double standards and immorality in this matter and ruffle some feathers there – believe me there’s a lot to go at. As you say “…it is(your) job, and (you) will not ignore a story for the risk of upsetting people by doing it.” You never know, it could be your making.

  • Comment number 71.

    I don't give stuff what anyone calls me and I don't think Gareth Thomas should either.

    This is all a result of the complete carp of cancerous political correctness we've endured under Labour.

    I spend much of my time in Central America where countless references are made to my colour for a start. And my sexuality. Do I care? Duh!! No!! These same guys and I hang out by the river later on buy me a beer later on and we have a laugh. Believe me this is a ridiculous European thing that we are now so saturated with in this country we have become nothing more than PC parrots.

    There's are many, many things I don't agree with in life - including an offensive Labour Government who made my non-EU wife feel like an unwanted immigrant with their discriminatory policies. In the same way, it is people's right to say what they like and me to choose how I react to it. That's why I have spent as much time as possible away from this wretched country the past 7 years.

    Go travel the world peoples, and get a reality check.

  • Comment number 72.

    George.

    http://www.castigers.com/article.php?id=877

    ...and believe me there will be more to come out, if you forgive the pun! As I intimated to yesterday in 70., this was a chance for you to get a proper story of misrepresentation, cover-up, scheming and connivance at the highest level of out beloved sport (not forgetting an opportunity to show Thomas's true intentions - the real perpetrator of this disgusting affair). Surely much better and more meaningful than an opportunistic unbalanced commentary?

    Well done Thomas - you've certainly been a pioneer of the game of RL!!!

  • Comment number 73.

    Perhaps in 2010, could it not be acceptable that a sportsman's predilictions off the field which in no way affect his ability to play whatever sport he is paid to play, should not affect his standing in that sport? And that includes Mr Terry. He may be a cad, and so may Mr Thomas, but does that affect his ability to do his job? I do not think so.

  • Comment number 74.

    George.
    How does "The referee's a w**k*r" (repeated several times) as suggested at the Leeds - Saints game tonight, fit into the RFL's happy family list of chants. You may use your skills to see if Leeds ejected and banned the several hundreds of their fans who made the reference and what action the RL will take.
    So soon after such a public outcry that surely the RFL will consider this an open and closed case of contempt by the South Standers. In other words - you can screw poor lowly Cas, but we're bigger than the RFL - that's why you've done nothing about previous crowd troubles at Leeds. To be fair, I did think the majority of Sth Stders shouted the many morons down, but hey, that happened at Cas and we still got shafted. I'm sure the weasels at the RFL will find the form of words to suit the occasion. I'll watch your column with interest.

  • Comment number 75.

    Well playing catch here after a few days of pc troubles (that's internet not poltical correctness).
    Hasn't this one got some of you a bit heated under the collar? To be honest got bored of reading it all so skipped quite a bit. No offence meant to anyone there.
    Some valid points made and scored and some own goals too and so many misconceptions. Its amazing how people get so excited about sexuality and yes so much is 'religious based' and that we could discuss for years and get knowhere.
    Should Cas have been punished financially? NO. They should have been allowed to bring the morons, bigots etc to count with assistance from the RFL. It has to be understood you can't always say these folk with predudice are thick, nope not at all we all know so called educated bigots. This like racism is one more misguided belief that seems to transcend any level of interlect and just because some one is educated doesn't mean they can or want to understand or be reasoned with. To use a sort of anti-religious statement... 'blind faith or belief is a dangerous thing' and this can go for someones personal views, if you can't question or try to understand an opposing viewpoint then there is point continuing the discussion. Rationale doesn't work but then who says your side of the argument is valid? In this case as with racism and the like there is no point arguing(its wrong, full stop).
    We will get this everywhere and as MAN WHO HAPPENS TO BE GAY do I have the right to make these assumptions? Well more or less yes been there and had to deal with it so you could say evidence based arguments.
    You will not change someones mind by imposing a fine and therefore to fine Cas for the actions of few isn't going to get them to say 'oh dear we better not do that again cos at this rate they'll take all the clubs money and we will be skint'. It doesn't work like that.
    The RFL is reacting and trying to see itself as the leader in the vanguard for equality, fair do, its trying to get one step ahead or is that catching up with football (lets no go there).
    See folks the comment about 'open secrets' is a good one we all know someone or who knows somone in the lime-light of sport or entertainment who happens to be gay and it always comes as some big shock to society when it is somehow made aware of this.
    Does because you now know their sexual orinentation change the way they play the game? Do they not still play and fight for the shirt or club or for you the fan? If you now see them as something less than you then I as many do pity you but then yet again pity is such a wasted emotion.

    Statistically Gareth isn't or can't be the only gay man playing in Super league or rugby at any level but as long as society behaves in such a manner and to be honest it always will... we accept that but we fight a good fight but then again what bloody business is it of yours who he/ they sleep with or do in their time they play for a club you support you don't own them and all you 'working class' macho men out there what you going to do when your son brings his boyfriend home for tea?

    Finally, why are we having this discussion? Its like Question Time because the folk we are trying to reason with and who Cas and the next club will be fined for don't even read this or have a computer for godsake most probably can't even read.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ #37
    "Grow up..."

    Sorry, you appeared to be expressing deeply-held prejudices. I didn't realise it was bog-standard blog wumming, which I try to ignore.

    I'll go off and try to grow up. You're quite right- it's my own immaturity that made me not realise that you intended the exact opposite of what you wrote. I do find it quite offensive that a wum thinks he's more mature than me, though. I guess some people define "mature" as "agrees with every word I say and thinks I'm a genius".

  • Comment number 78.

    If homophobic abuse from fans is ok, does that mean sectarian abuse and racial abuse is ok? Big fines or no license.

  • Comment number 79.

    I detest homophobia! As i do racism, ageism etc... And i am glad that the RFL made a 'stand' re: homophobic chanting and disrespect. But i do feel Gareth Thomas could do far more to assist the RFL with this issue.Gareth has been fame hungry with his TV appearances lately, maybe he himself should stop and think about how he is presenting himself.Sometimes we are so adamant that our own point of view is correct that we completely disrespect everyone elses opinion! Maybe it is time for Gareth to stop forcing HIS views upon everyone, pushing his opinions on everyone etc....... Gareth needs to speak to other S.L clubs and calm/stop all this T.V stuff. In R.L we don't like all this bleating and T.V pushing, we are down to earth people who JUST get on with it!! No need for all these T.V interviews?!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    I have continued to look at the postings since i last posted, segulfp et al, we can all agree to disagree!!! Your post was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long neither me or probably anyone else bothered to even read your post???!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 81.

    Well done RFL for taking an enlightened stand on the issue. There was a time not so very long ago when racial abuse was common "banter" directed at players from the football stands, but now is not accepted and sanctions are applied to those who might still feel it is just harmless "banter". Whether or not Gareth Thomas is merely topping up his pension pot as one contributor alleges, that is neither here nor there. As a keen follower of Union rather than League, I've enjoyed watching Gareth's brilliance in a Wales jersey over the years and that's from an avid Scotland supporter who also happens to be gay. He was a superb ambassador for Welsh rugby, for Union full stop, and I have no doubt at all that he'll be doing the same for League given the chance. Whether Union or League, rugby prides itself on a true spirit of sportsmanship and fair play and the RFL has lived up to that in its decision. Gareth, if you're reading this, take this as another expression of support. I'm only disappointed that I won't be seeing you in a Wales jersey again in the Six Nations. You were pure magic then and I'm sure you'll give as much to League fans as you did to us.

  • Comment number 82.

    I've arrived late to this rather heated debate and it's probably run its course now but while I think it is absolutely right of the RFL to show no tolerance of homophobic chanting or homophobic attitudes, I do think the fine imposed upon Castleford is wholly disproportionate to the crime. I also think the RFL needs to take seriously some of the other chanting which takes place at rugby league matches. While some of the more generalised stuff is humorous or at least relatively harmless, some is directed at players specifically, is abusive and in my view is no different from homophobic chanting. It may not break the law but it certainly does contravene the principle of respect. Just because rugby league fans have always done something does not make that something right. Maybe this is an opportunity for the RFL to put right abusive chanting per se and not only homophobic chanting.

  • Comment number 83.

    I am quite astounded at some of the negative responses on here, uuurrrzzz for example. This is NOT, I repeat NOT an issue of "Freedom of Speech or Expression" The chanting is, according to those who know, "Hate speech" and as such, is outside the law, as it disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race or sexual orientation. The law can't stop the likes of you thinking what you want, but it sure can and should stop you being abusive in that way.

    Further , I understand that the fine is because the Club did not take any real steps to identify and act against the perpetrators. Not the first time, either. Its almost as if the club is supporting the outdated view that " this is a man's game and if you can't put up with this sort of abuse, then you should not be playing." Possibly the same sort of people who thought the gym teacher is "Kes" was an OK guy.

    Of course, its only natural for some Cas fans steeped in the traditions of abuse as character building to seek to minimise the problem, but to think that this is some sort of plot to deprive the club of a licence is quite frankly absurd.

    Also, to see to compare this with other chants at other clubs is irrelevant nonsense. This is about what went on a Cas: the chanting is illegal, that is all there is to it.

    Pay up, shut up and don't do it again.

  • Comment number 84.

    The fine was harsh, RFL should have mads Cas play behind locked doors for 12 months and ban supporters from travelling away to games as well.

 

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