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Greyhounds NSW employee sacked over 'appalling' act amid Ezra Mam controversy in NRL

The Brisbane Broncos player was called a 'monkey' by Spencer Leniu.

A Greyhounds NSW employee has reportedly been sacked over an 'appalling' comment in an official form guide that said punters could "Go Bananas" over a dog named after Ezra Mam. An Indigenous NRL player, Mam was called a 'monkey' by Spencer Leniu during the Broncos' clash with the Roosters on the opening weekend of the season in Las Vegas.

Leniu fronted the NRL judiciary on Monday night and was hit with an eight-game suspension. The panel rejected Leniu's claim that he didn't realise the racial connotations around the word 'monkey'.

On the same night that Leniu faced the judiciary, Greyhounds NSW was forced to issue an apology after a staffer referenced the incident in the online form guide for a race in Maitland. In the notes about the dog's recent form, the staffer wrote: "Go Bananas! Let's see IF we can get some positive Headlines, tonight?"

Ezra Mam.
Ezra Mam was called a 'monkey' by Spencer Leniu. Image: Greyhounds NSW/Getty (Getty Images)

The comment was later removed from Greyhounds NSW's website, but the changes didn't flow through to the websites of the organisation's wagering partners. Greyhounds NSW issued a statement apologising.

"GRNSW is appalled by what was published, and apologises unreservedly for the comment, and the distress it has caused," the statement read. "GRNSW also apologises unreservedly to its partners who were unwittingly and through no fault of their own, caught up in the incident. GRNSW will not tolerate this kind of behaviour and appropriate action has been taken."

According to reports, the 'appropriate action' referenced by Greyhounds NSW is sacking the staffer. The websites of the batting agencies that Greyhounds NSW provides the form guides for were unable to remove the content from their own channels.

The form guide, pictured here on the Greyhounds NSW website.
The form guide provided by Greyhounds NSW about a dog called 'Ezra Man'. Image: Greyhounds NSW

Sportsbet caught up in furore around Greyhounds NSW

Sportsbet, the country's largest bookmaker, abandoned betting on the race after the comment started doing the rounds on social media. Sportsbet contacted the NRL to ensure the league it was not responsible.

"We are extremely disappointed highly offensive and inappropriate comments supplied by a third party were automatically published on our platforms," Sportsbet said in a statement. "Sportsbet immediately removed the event and associated comments when we became aware.

"Our partner Greyhound Racing NSW has confirmed that necessary action has been taken, and we have sought further re-assurances that appropriate controls are in place. We do not tolerate hate speech, discrimination and racism in our organisation, on our platforms, or by our partners. We will continue to call it out and unreservedly apologise for the distress this has caused."

Spencer Leniu, pictured here at the NRL judiciary.
Spencer Leniu was handed an eight-game ban by the NRL judiciary. (AAPIMAGE)

Ezra Mam deeply affected by Spencer Leniu's racial slur

In a statement provided to the judiciary panel on Monday night, Mam said he saw red after being told to "f*** up you monkey" by Leniu. The Indigenous star detailed the hurt felt by him and his family, something the panel said they took into consideration when handing down the ban.

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Leniu said he thought he was "one brown man saying something to another brown man" and didn't realise the racial connotations of calling someone a 'monkey', He argued that players of colour in NRL squads regularly called each other names including "blacky", "monkey" and "black c***".

"The use of words is so common," he said. "This game happened so fast and in that split second I said a word, I didn't know any meaning to it.

"I didn't know how much that meant to the Indigenous community and his family. It was just one of those things. I tackled someone, they said something to me and I said something to them."

with AAP

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