Indigenous star accepts apology after racial abuse investigation

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Penrith star Brent Naden looking on during a match.
The NRL has closed an investigation into the vile abuse of Penrith star Brent Naden after he accepted an apology. (Getty Images)

An NRL investigation into racial abuse hurled at Brent Naden last month has been closed after one of the men ejected from Central Coast Stadium apologised to the Penrith centre.

The apology was made on behalf of the eight spectators who were thrown out of the ground on August 14 when Naden signalled he has been racially abused.

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The 24-year-old Indigenous star agreed to speak to the man over the phone and accepted the apology for the vile abuse.

It's understood there were two separate incidents between Naden and the spectators during the first half of the match on August 14, with the group moving from one end of the grand stand to the other.

They were then seen being asked to leave the ground by police and security at halftime - vision that was broadcast.

On Monday, Naden told The Sydney Morning Herald that he had never dealt with a situation like it before, but was proud he stood up for himself.

"What made it easier for me to speak up was having watched guys like Greg Inglis, Adam Goodes and Latrell Mitchell stand up to it in the past," Naden said.

"It makes you feel good about yourself and makes you proud to be an Indigenous man.

"Hopefully people seeing me stand up for myself will make it easier for the next generation and give other people the confidence, people at the club and young kids and cousins."

The group will not be banned from attending matches but will be offered an educational program concerning 'respect for players and the effect that abuse can have on our participants'.

Brent Naden of the Panthers looks on during the round 12 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Penrith Panthers at Lottoland on August 01, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
Brent Naden of the Panthers looks on during the round 12 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Penrith Panthers at Lottoland on August 01, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

The course of action was agreed on by Naden, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo as well as the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council (ARLIC) and community partners.

"The game will not tolerate any form of abuse against our players - be it physical, verbal or online trolling," Abdo said in a statement.

"I commend Brent Naden for taking a strong stand on this matter and the way in which he has conducted himself throughout the process.

"I'm pleased Brent had the opportunity to share how he feels and I'm pleased that an apology has been made and accepted."

Cleary commends Naden standing up for himself

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said he was proud of Naden for standing up for himself and reporting the abuse.

"He's OK; he said that it's not the first time he's heard that in his life but in this forum it has been, so he's a little bit... he certainly took offence to it at the time but he's OK," Cleary said.

"It's one of those situations where you can only react how you feel at the time.

"Whatever was said, and I don't know exactly what was said, it definitely affected him and by the sounds of it the appropriate action was taken and what happens from here I'm not too sure."