The Rugby League World Cup is off to a nightmare start with a leading English official forced to apologise to the Fijian team for an offensive remark made on stage.
Speaking in front of colleagues, players, club executives and guests at the RFL’s annual awards, the league’s boss Ralph Rimmer declared that the Fijian team had arrived in the UK:
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“Fiji have already arrived. We don’t think anybody has been arrested yet, do we?
“No, we’re alright, so we’re going pretty well then.”
Rimmer later offered a grovelling apology for the tasteless comment but there have been calls for his immediate resignation in the United Kingdom.
Rimmer is contracted to the RFL until the end of the year on a $290,000 salary and is determined to see out the storm.
But public pressure is mounting via mainstream and social media after the remarks went viral.
Rimmer denied being a racist but “apologised unreservedly” in a prepared statement and also contacted the Fijian management team to say sorry.
“There was no intention to malign the Fiji squad – in fact the context of the remark was my excitement that their arrival in the country marked the imminence of the World Cup competition, to which they have contributed so significantly and positively since 1995, on and off the field.”
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