Rugby League: Did Castleford do enough to stop homophobic chanting?
Castleford were stunned this week by the severity of their punishment for the homophobic chanting directed at Gareth Thomas when they played Crusaders in March.
It is not in dispute that abuse was directed at Thomas from a section of the crowd at The Jungle that day. Nor, I would imagine, is there much disagreement that persecution of any group or individual is something that the game needs to act upon.
The question is whether there is much the club could have done about it.
I wasn’t there on the day, but people who were tell me that the ignorant chanting of a tiny minority was clearly audible.
The charge against Cas and the reason they have been hit with a £40,000 fine is that they did not immediately put out a PA announcement telling the perpetrators to shut up, didn’t send in stewards to identify them and have not held what the RFL calls “a meaningful inquiry” into the matter.
In other words, they are accused of not taking it seriously enough. There were times when insults directed towards black players were treated as minor infractions; the attitude would be different now – and attitudes towards people based on their orientation need to change as well.
Not surprisingly, Cas are preparing an appeal against their punishment. What they need to ask themselves is whether they handled a difficult situation firmly enough that day in March.
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