Erin Molan has received strong support from a Samoan NRL star after being accused of mocking the names of Pacific Island players.
The Channel Nine commentator came under fire last month after saying “hooka looka mooka hooka fooka” on a 2GB radio segment - seemingly poking fun at the names of NRL players.
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It was reported by the Daily Mail at the time that Molan was referencing an "inside joke" she shared with colleagues - a claim the 37-year-old journalist has denied.
NRL stars Martin Taupau and Braden Hamlin-Uele were among those players to lash out at Molan, accusing the presenter of being racist.
“Understandable for our non-Pasifika community attempting to properly announce our names, but to disrespect and make a mockery of former/current Pasifika players in the NRL like how you carried on is DISGRACEFUL!” Taupau wrote.
“My grandfather would be tossing in his grave in anger!”
Understandable for our non-Pasifika community attempting to properly announce our names, but to disrespect and make a mockery of former/current Pasifika players in the NRL like how you carried on is DISGRACEFUL! My grandfather would be tossing in his grave in anger!🤬@Erin_Molan https://t.co/CTMuzHEatl— Martin Taupau (@MartyKapow) June 5, 2020
“An inside joke? Show some respect!,” Hamlin-Uele said in an Instagram story.
“If that’s a joke between colleagues then F that workplace. Get out of the job @ErinMolan.
“Disgusting to even think that would be ok, to put on an accent and say that. Wake up to yourself.”
In a stunning twist to the ugly saga, however, Wests Tigers's star Josh Aloiai says Molan deserves an apology.
Aloiai, who is also of Samoan heritage, told The Sydney Morning Herald that players such as Taupau "need to do their research" instead of trusting what he called "irresponsible reporting from the Daily Mail".
I’m going to be very blunt: I’m angry and disappointed with what has been said about Erin in the Pacific Island community and she is owed an apology from everyone who has attacked her," Aloiai said.
"It is disgusting and horrible what happened to Erin.”
Aloiai said what most people don't see is the good work Molan does with the Pacific Island community and stressed that she doesn't have a racist bone in her body.
“I stand with Erin. She should not feel afraid to leave the house because of threats. She should not have to hide away at home with her daughter. She should not have to look over her shoulder. She does so much for the Pacific Island community, for its players. Racist and Erin is not something that should be talked about [in the same sentence].
"I would not be comfortable if I didn’t speak out when there was an injustice done against a good person. She deserves support and she deserves an apology from anyone who has treated her terribly.”
Presenter reveals history of criticism
Molan recently opened up about the criticism she copped from fans early in her career, saying the Australian sporting public “wasn’t ready for a woman.”
The 37-year-old was one of the first women in Australia to make a name for herself as a sports presenter, blazing a trail for her fellow female journalists and hosts.
Molan previously hosted the NRL Footy Show and is at the forefront of the majority of Channel Nine’s rugby league coverage.
However she was unfairly treated when she first burst into our TV screens, and still has to deal with nasty backlash from fans on a daily basis.
“The challenges, of course, have been there. Being one of the first females to do a lot of things that I’ve done in my career had its own challenges,” Molan said on the Women of Influence podcast recently.
“Sometimes I don’t think the public and other people were quite ready for a woman to be in the kind of roles that I was put into.
“What frustrated me early on was so much of the criticism, the majority, 99 per cent of it, had nothing to do with what I said or what I knew or the way that I hosted or conducted a panel or the information I gave.
“It was what I looked like, what I wore, the fact that I’d never played football before. All these things that weren’t part of my control and didn’t matter given the role that I was doing.
“It was always things that were aesthetic rather than the core of what I was saying or the content that I was delivering and I think that's frustrating.”