Potential Fallout For The Sydney Roosters In The Wake Of Racial Slur Allegations

Potential Fallout For The Sydney Roosters In The Wake Of Racial Slur Allegations

The Sydney Roosters are facing a huge amount of fallout over allegations that Spencer Leniu made an on-field racial slur against Broncos player Ezra Mam in yesterday’s Las Vegas season opener.

Mam filed an official complaint against Leniu after the Roosters prop allegedly called the Broncos five-eighth a “monkey” on the field. Leniu tried to dismiss the claims, saying that it is all “just fun and games on the field” but Broncos coach Kevin Walters said that Mam was “pretty upset” over the altercation. This morning, the NRL officially charged Leniu over the alleged incident.

 

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The Sydney Roosters have long since been considered one of the wealthier clubs in the league, with several thriving sponsorship deals keeping them afloat. However, given the nature of the comments allegedly made against Leniu, this reputation could be at risk.

It is not uncommon for sponsors to pull funding off the back of a potential scandal, and many have pulled out for much less than what Leniu has been accused of. The St George Illawarra Dragons, for example, will, at the end of the 2024 season, lose a major sponsor in St George Bank, with the financial institution citing that it was “concerned about the management of the club and player behaviour over the last few years”. Internationally, there is a long history of individual sponsorship deals being pulled due to player or coach misconduct.

For several years, The Roosters have partnered with the Kari Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that has long supported Indigenous communities. A partnership that could be at risk if the allegations against Spencer Leniu prove to be true. Premier Services Group is a club sponsor but also has an individual investment in Leniu. B&T approached the Kari Foundation and Premier Services Group for comment but did not get a response.

Unfortunately for the Roosters, this issue will not go away quietly, with several big-name players taking to social media to voice their support for Mam. “Typical,” said Rabbitohs superstar Latrell Mitchell in a story post on Instagram. “The NRL better deal with this s**t”. Mitchell found himself at the centre of a racism case last year when an opposing fan allegedly threw a racial slur at him on the field.

A confrontation also reportedly occurred overnight between Leniu and two Broncos players in the hotel where the teams are staying. Leniu was reportedly removed from a heated exchange with centre Kotoni Staggs and lock Pat Carrigan over the incident that allegedly had Mam in tears.

The NRL claims to have a zero-tolerance policy for racism and, for the most part, has been successful in enforcing this. The claims will be investigated in explicit detail. If Leniu is found guilty, he could be facing what is being described as a “very long holiday” from the league, according to veteran commentator Phil Rothfield.

B&T approached the Sydney Roosters for comment on the allegations, but no response was received.




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