The Queensland Firebirds have opened an investigation after West Coast Fever star Verity Charles was abused by four supporters and spat at in Brisbane on Saturday night.
The Firebirds said they are trying to identify the women, one of whom was wearing a Firebirds supporter shirt, with one also spitting at Charles.
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The club condemned the actions, made even more serious in light of coronavirus with Charles a diabetic and her husband, Nathan Charles, a former Super Rugby player who has cystic fibrosis.
Firebirds chief executive Catherine Clark said the club had offered Verity their apologies and support over the “despicable” act.
“Let me be absolutely clear - this behaviour will not be tolerated by our club,” Clark said in a statement.
“Those involved should be ashamed of themselves.
“The person wearing a Firebirds shirt should hand it back. You clearly do not share our values. You are not welcome at our club.
“The act of spitting towards anyone is despicable, notwithstanding the risks in the current COVID-19 environment.
“Behaviour of this nature has absolutely no place in our sport or society more broadly.”
The Fever are currently located in southeast Queensland, with the Super Netball season shifted there due to COVID-19.
Verity Charles speaks out after incident
Charles, who previously played for the Firebirds, thanked fans for their support on Saturday night.
“I just want to say a massive thank you for all the support from West Coast Fever fans and general netball fans,” Charles wrote on social media.
“It is something we don’t want to happen to anybody so that response has been positive.”
Clark said the club had apologised to Charles.
“I have personally spoken to Verity to offer an unreserved apology as well as the full support of our club,” Clark said.
“Out of respect for Verity’s wishes, we have commenced an investigation into the incident out of the public domain. She wants to focus on her netball and our club will respect her request.”
West Coast said the incident was “very disappointing”.
“West Coast Fever does not condone any negative behaviour from members of the public towards our players,” the club said in a statement.
“The incident that took place between one of our players and four members of the general public on Saturday night is very disappointing.”
On a Facebook live just now, @9Netball caller @SueGaudion has re-told a story of x4 Queensland Firebirds fans who approached @WestCoastFever player Verity Charles on the street over the weekend & spat on the ground in front of her and told her she was "disgusting". Ordinary.— Erin Delahunty (@della79) September 13, 2020
If reports of FBirds supporters spitting on @SuperNetball player Verity Charles is correct, then I sure as hell hope the club & league take action on these people ASAP. Our sport Can’t keep getting caught sitting on its hands & not taking action quick enough!!#notacceptable— Nat Medhurst (@natmedhurst) September 13, 2020
Lifetime ban on those Firebirds supporters who spat at Verity Charles. Honestly!!! Disgusting— Jess Mascilo (@JessLMas) September 13, 2020