NRL player Marcelo Montoya has received a four-match suspension for using a homophobic slur on the field.
About an hour into the match in Redcliffe last Friday night, the Warriors winger (pictured) had tackled North Queensland Cowboys player Kyle Feldt to the ground.
As the Warriors debated a referee’s decision, Montoya yelled, “Get up Kyle, you f—-t.”
The player’s comment was caught on a referee microphone and made it to air on the TV broadcast.
On Tuesday night, Montoya appeared before the NRL judiciary and pleaded guilty to the NRL’s charge of contrary conduct for the slur. He subsequently received the four-match ban.
“I am not a homophobe and gays in the community are valued, that’s my position,” Montoya said.
“In the heat of the moment on the footy field things are said.
“I understand and accept that word is unacceptable and that’s definitely something out of character.
“There was no intention to offend anyone or offend Kyle.”
Marcelo Montoya apologises for using slur on field
Offering a public apology, Marcelo Montoya said, “I would like to apologise to Kyle Feldt, to the NRL and to the gay community, and anyone else I’ve offended.
“I know and respect the work that the NRL has done to ensure inclusiveness and diversity within the NRL community.
“Moving forward I can only assure you that I have learned from this lesson and this will never happen again.”
NRL counsel Lachlan Gyles told the hearing the slur is “a derogatory term, which can promote discrimination and hatred of gay men.”
“The use of that term is unacceptable in modern society,” he said.
“Everyone connected with the game has the right to feel safe and protected.”
Warriors CEO Cameron George said the club accepted the penalty, and Marcelo Montoya was feeling “devastated”.
“We know how disappointed Marcelo is with himself,” he said.
“As a club we don’t condone such behaviour in any circumstances and nor does Marcelo.
“He will learn from this and will use it to move forward from this episode.”
The Warriors winger will return to the field on May 14.
‘Homophobic slurs are not part of our game’
At the weekend, NRL legend Ian Roberts, the first openly gay pro rugby league player, said the NRL should’ve addressed the incident sooner.
He told the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday that whether or not people used the slurs with homophobic intent, they’re “cutting” and “so incredibly damaging”.
“This is where the NRL draw a line in the sand about discriminatory remarks made on-field,” he said.
“It’s no longer acceptable under any circumstances.
“Racism isn’t acceptable, misogynistic comments aren’t acceptable. Homophobic slurs are not part of our game.
“When I heard it on Friday night, my initial thought was about the kids in the suburbs and regional areas who are struggling with their sexual identity.
“I don’t think enough people realise how damaging these flippant remarks are.”
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.