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Why Gould rang a judge after Montoya ruling
Rugby league great Phil Gould says past precedent in the NRL has left Marcelo Montoya with a harsh punishment after the Warriors winger was suspended over a homophobic slur.
The judiciary banned Montoya for four games earlier this week after he was charged with contrary conduct for directing a homophobic remark at Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt.
NRL boss Andrew Abdo said Montoya’s actions were “unacceptable” adding abuse of that nature “will not be tolerated” in the game.
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Gould said he supported the lengthy ban, but said it was a confusing punishment given that homophobic and racial slurs hadn’t resulted in suspensions previously.
“I have no problem with a four-week suspension for a homophobic or racial slur on the field at any time,” he said on Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast.
“That is something we just don’t have in society these days and this has come right out of the blue.
“I can’t ever remember at any time, any player, ever being accused or charged with a homophobic slur in the field of play.
“There have been examples over the years of racial vilification, which have been dealt with under the process of the NRL.
“Back in 1997, the ARL made a rule that there would be a $20,000 fine for a racial slur.
“I don’t decipher between racial or homophobic, or other types of slurs.”
Gould brought up three recent examples of when players had received only a fine for a slur used out on the field.
He cited Barry Ward’s 1998 racial vilification of Anthony Mundine, Bryan Fletcher’s slur directed at Parramatta’s Dean Widders in 2005 and Paul Gallen’s comment to St George Illawarra’s Mickey Paea in 2009.
“Throughout history, there have been three that have been punished that we can find in Barry Ward, who was fined $10,000, which was later reduced to $5,000 on appeal,” Gould explained.
“Bryan Fletcher, who was fined $10,000 and stood down by his club for one game – that was not a direction of the judiciary.
“Paul Gallen received a $10,000 fine for racial vilification in 2009.
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“I have no problem going forward if the NRL make a rule that any racial or homophobic slur on the field of this nature, is going to incur a four-week suspension.
“But no player running around on the field of play last weekend would have been aware of the fact that such a slur if picked up and charged, would get a four-week suspension.
“In the past, these sort of things have been dealt with by fines.
“It’s fine for the league to say that from now on, ‘if you do this we’re not going to put up with it’ – and we shouldn’t – it’s going to be a four-week suspension.”
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Gould said in the aftermath of Montoya’s ban, he reached out to former player turned judge Paul Conlon, who said the crime didn’t fit the punishment of the contrary conduct charge.
“I’ve actually spoken to Judge Paul Conlon about this, who used to be judiciary chairman. He was of the view that dealing with this matter under contrary conduct, that it was rather harsh to issue a four-week penalty now, given the players did not know that racial or homophobic slurs would be dealt in that matter,” Gould said.
“The past and precedent was always a fine.
“Marcelo Montoya should’ve been pretty much treated the same way as those on this occasion, and say we’re not going to tolerate this anymore from now on… we’re not going to have this in the game, and then you’ve made your statement.
“But for some judiciary members and the judiciary chairman this time to suddenly turn around and say we need to do something about this now, therefore will make an example of you and suspend you… I think is rather harsh in this context.
“It wasn’t intended in the context that word would normally be used. It was used in that specific sense of that part of the game, but people will take offence to it and they’re right to take offence to it.
“It needs to be stamped out. It can’t be said, it’s as simple as that.
“At the end of the day, Montoya deserved a penalty and the game cannot have this in the game. We all agree on that.
“But to suddenly pluck four weeks without warning, I think it can be argued that it’s unfair to the player.
“It certainly sent a message to the players.”
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