UK: Leeds rugby star declines to appeal 5-match ban for calling player ‘f**king f*g’

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Leeds rugby player Zak Hardaker has said he will not appeal a 5-match ban he was handed by the RFL, after calling a player a “fucking fag”.

The Leeds Rhinos player, 22 was thought to have made the comments to referee James Child, during the team’s match against their match against Warrington two weeks ago.

The Rugby Football League’s match-review panel has charged him with a grade E offence of “using verbal abuse based on race, colour, religion, gender, sexual preference, national or ethnic origin” earlier this week, which allows for a ban of 4 to 8 matches.

Today, it was announced that the disciplinary panel had opted to hand him a 5-match ban, and a £300 fine.

A statement from the RFL said: “In handing down a five-match ban and £300 fine, the tribunal took into consideration the player’s contrition, his guilty plea and evidence that he is undertaking voluntary work within the LGBT community.”

After the decision, Hardaker tweeted: “Thankyou everyone for ur support, 5 games it is. You live and learn and that’s life, so I’ll just make sure I come out better for it #LIFE”

His suspension will start on Thursday, when the Leeds Rhinos are due to play against Huddersfield.

Apologising earlier, Hardaker had said: “”I would like to apologise for any offence my comments during that game have caused.

“In the heat of the game, I have used an offensive term and I can honestly say I was deeply saddened when I found out after the game how it had been perceived.

“As professional players, we know that we have an obligation to conduct ourselves in the right manner for the good of the game at all times, that includes with our team-mates, opponents, officials and, of course, supporters at the ground and those watching at home on television, and my comments fell below those standards.

“I would especially like to apologise to Michael Monaghan, who my comments were aimed at.

“During the investigation, I was made aware that the referee on the night, James Child, also heard my comment and was offended by it.

“I would like to unreservedly apologise to him for that and I can assure him that no offence was intended toward him.

“I have complied fully with the RFL’s investigation, never looked to deny what I said and will accept their judgement.

“I made a mistake and hopefully, if any good can come from this situation, it is that everyone thinks about the words they say and how they can cause unintended offence to those around us. Clearly certain words have powerful meanings other than that intended at the time.”