Rugby League great Matty Johns has offered his sincerest apologies after being widely condemned for making a joke on live television about former German dictator, Adolf Hitler.
Discussing the NRL’s new ‘Fan in the Stands’ promotion in which punters can pay $22 to have their face appear on a cardboard cut-out at games, the Sunday Night with Matty Johns show on Fox Sports ran a gag in which they superimposed Hitler onto one of the cut-outs.
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A number of similar stunts that punters pulled off over the weekend included one fan’s dog, controversial British politician Dominic Cummings and an infamous serial killer appearing in the stands.
However, Johns was forced to offer a public apology on Monday after being slammed from sporting identities and the Jewish community, during a segment that joked about Hitler's appearance on one of the cardboard cut-outs.
“The segment on my Fox League show on Sunday in which we showed an image of Hitler in crowd cut-outs was in poor taste and completely inappropriate,” Johns said.
“I know Fox Sports has apologised but I need to personally step up to this. I know how raw and devastating those events remain for so many people and families.
“I acknowledge it was wrong and I apologise to our viewers and to everyone in the community who is rightly concerned and offended by the segment.
“I’ve reached out and spoken directly to Vic Alhadeff at the Jewish Board of Deputies this morning to apologise to the Jewish community and I’ll be apologising on air to all our viewers on Thursday night’s show.”
Australian community slams Hitler ‘joke’
Johns' apology came after a torrent of backlash from within the Jewish community and across Australia.
The CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry led the outrage.
“This sort of stupidity, the casualisation of Hitler, Nazis, and by extension their crimes, is what leads to swastikas being graffitied throughout our cities and school kids being harassed with gas chamber jokes,” Alex Ryvchin tweeted.
“@FOXNRLLive & @MattyShowsFox should tell their viewers it’s not on.”
This sort of stupidity, the casualisation of Hitler, Nazis, and by extension their crimes, is what leads to swastikas being graffitied throughout our cities and school kids being harassed with gas chamber jokes. @FOXNRLLive & @MattyShowsFox should tell their viewers it’s not on. https://t.co/sCuhom5GbY— Alex Ryvchin (@AlexRyvchin) May 31, 2020
The Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission also slammed the joke.
“This is bad taste and trivialisation of mass murder taken to the extreme,” Dr Dvir Abramovich wrote.
“When a monster such as Hitler, responsible for the deaths of millions of people, including 1.5 million children and more than 30,000 Diggers, features as a punchline and a gag on a sports show you know we have hit another low in the trivialisation of the Holocaust.
“Nazi jokes should be completely off-limits and, the presenters and producers of the show crossed so many red lines, I stopped counting.
“Using Hitler to elicit a laugh is inexcusable, degrades the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust, and is hurtful to survivors and their children.
“I hope that the people involved in this sorry episode reflect on their actions and apologise for a sketch that simply went too far.”