NRL legend Ian Roberts has reacted to Warriors player Marcelo Montoya yelling a homophobic slur at a rival during an NRL match in Queensland on Friday night.
An hour into the match, North Queensland Cowboys player Kyle Feldt was on the ground after being tackled by winger Marcelo Montoya (pictured above) at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe.
The player’s on-field slur was caught on a referee microphone and made it to air in the TV broadcast.
The Warriors later identified Marcelo Montoya as that player, and said he had come forward to them.
On Sunday, the NRL charged the 26-year-old with a contrary conduct offence. The matter has also gone to the sport’s judiciary.
Marcelo Montoya will plead his case before the judiciary on Tuesday night. The player could face a ban or fine for the offence.
NRL player Marcelo Montoya and club ‘extremely apologetic’
On Sunday, Warriors CEO Cameron George issued an apology on behalf of Montoya and the club.
“Both Marcelo and the club are extremely apologetic for the offence this has caused,” he said.
“It was unacceptable.
“Marcelo accepts responsibility and knows there’s no place for such behaviour both in the game and in society generally.”
But Ian Roberts, the first openly gay pro rugby league player, questioned why the NRL and the two clubs took 44 hours to address the incident.
“On its website the NRL state they support LGTBTIQA+ people and are vocal supporters of eliminating discrimination,” Roberts tweeted earlier on Sunday.
“I have waited for a statement from the NRL, the Warriors or my old club the North Queensland Cowboys – but nothing.
“This incident saddens me, for the LGTBTIQA+ youth watching the game on Friday night.
“For the LGTBTIQA+ players in the #NRL – those who are out, and those who are still on that journey. And for us as a society.
“NRL should be for everybody. On Friday night, it was not.”
‘No place for hurtful or divisive language’
On Monday, North Queensland Cowboys CEO Jeff Reibel also called out the “extremely disappointing” comment.
“We were extremely disappointed to learn a homophobic slur was used by an opposing player during our match against the Warriors on Friday night,” Reibel said.
“There is absolutely no place for hurtful or divisive language in our game.
“As a member of Pride in Sport Australia, the Cowboys are committed to being a club who promotes diversity and inclusion for all.”
The New Zealand Warriors are based in Auckland and the only club competing in the NRL premiership from outside Australia.
The incident comes just months after Football Australia fined soccer club Melbourne Victory $5,000 for homophobic abuse towards Josh Cavallo.
In March, Adelaide City FC called out their own fans over homophobic abuse directed at other teams and as a result banned some supporters from their stadium.
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.