US & Canada

NFL boss says he 'got it wrong' on domestic violence

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Goodell apologies for failing to deal to with domestic violence cases in the league

The National Football League boss has said he "got it wrong" in dealing with the violence scandals that have plagued the American football league.

In his first public statement in a week, Roger Goodell apologised for his mistakes and pledged to implement new personal conduct policies.

"We strongly condemn and will punish behaviour that is totally unacceptable," he said.

He has faced calls to resign after a series of assaults involving players.

But the commissioner said on Friday he had not considered stepping down and that he had the support of the team owners.

"We will get our house in order," he said at a press conference in New York.

Mr Goodell announced the NFL plans to set up a new personal conduct committee and draft new rules for the league's players and staff, which he hoped would be in place for the Super Bowl in early 2015.

The NFL, and Mr Goodell in particular, have been criticised over their handling of an abuse case involving running back Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ray Rice was initially suspended for only two games after allegedly assaulting then-fiancee Janay Palmer in February

Mr Goodell initially banned Rice for two games after he was accused of assaulting his then-fiancee and video emerged of him dragging her apparently unconscious from a lift in Atlantic City in February.

It was only after video of him punching her was posted online in August that Rice was cut by the Ravens and banned from the league indefinitely by Mr Goodell.

"I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter," he said on Friday.

"But now I will get it right and do whatever is necessary to accomplish that."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse after beating his four-year-old son

The NFL has also come under fire for its handling of other abuse cases, including Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who has been charged with child abuse in Texas after allegedly whipping his four-year-old son.

In recent days, some NFL sponsors have made public statements urging it to do more to address the issue.

On Friday, Procter & Gamble announced it was dropping an on-field breast cancer awareness promotion it had been planning with the NFL.

"Domestic violence is completely unacceptable and we have strongly urged the NFL to take swift and decisive action to address this issue," said a spokesman.

"Our decision to cancel this on field activity was related to this ongoing issue.''

Other sponsors like PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch have expressed concern. Women make up about 35% of the average television audience of games.

Mr Goodell said NFL staff would be required to undergo training on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault starting within 30 days.

He said the league will partner with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Correction 4 October 2014: This report has been amended to clarify the chain of events in the Ray Rice case.

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