A Bradford Bulls player has been warned by the club for saying a fellow rugby player’s photo shoot in a gay magazine had let the side down.
An investigation was launched immediately by the club after Elliott Whitehead’s comments were brought to officials’ attention by PinkNews.co.uk.
Stuart Reardon, who began his career at Bradford Bulls and currently plays for French side AC Carcassonne, appeared in a photo spread for Australian DNA magazine.
In many shots, he was shown without a shirt or only in underwear.
Reardon had commented during the accompanying interview, “I don’t think it matters if you’re gay in sport or any kind of job, really”, and this quote was printed on one double-page spread.
He posted an image of this spread to his Facebook account, to which 4,000 people have access.
On the afternoon of 6 November, Whitehead, 22, commented on the picture, saying: “This a gay mag or something!!! You have really let the bradford bus down with this fort better from u [sic]”.
A spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk the comment had been removed on Monday 20 November and Whitehead had apologised, saying his comment related only to Reardon’s pose.
Players are warned not to engage in activity on social media which could bring the sport into disrepute.
Bradford Bulls recently signed the government’s Charter for Action, which promotes equality and inclusiveness in sport and shows sporting organisations’ commitment to tackling homophobia and transphobia.
The incident will be referred to the sport’s governing body, the RFL, who are able to issue more stringent penalties if the club’s reaction is thought to be too lenient.
On joining the Charter this year, RFL Chairman Richard Lewis had said: “At the RFL we are committed to eradicating all traces of discrimination from our sport.
“The RFL is proud to have shown our commitment to ending homophobia and transphobia in sport by signing the LGBT charter and by continuing to work hard we can all come together to tackle this issue and kick all forms of discrimination in sport into touch.
“The challenge for us now is not to rest on our laurels but to keep developing our entire equality and diversity programmes and continue the impressive progress we have made in recent years.”
This summer, Whitehead, who was the club’s 2008 player of the year, had been banned for 5 games and fined £300 by the RFL for biting a player during a match.