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Rugby player dropped from France’s Six Nations squad after ‘f**king faggot’ controversy

Nick Duffy January 17, 2018
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RC Toulon's French centre Mathieu Bastareaud (C) runs towards Bath's defence during the Champions Cup rugby union match RC Toulon vs Bath at The Mayol Stadium in Toulon, southeastern France on December 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)

A rugby player who used homophobic slurs against an opponent has been dropped from France’s official squad.

Mathieu Bastareaud, a French rugby union centre who plays for Toulon, came under fire for his comments during Sunday’s European Champions Cup match against Benetton.

The player was named to the French national squad earlier today, days after referring to his opponent as a “f**king faggot”.

However, after being suspended for three weeks, he was promptly dropped from the squad.

Original story below:

A rugby player who used homophobic slurs against an opponent has been named to France’s squad.

Mathieu Bastareaud, a rugby union centre who plays for Toulon, came under fire for comments he made during Sunday’s European Champions Cup match against Benetton.

During a confrontation with the opposing team’s flanker Sebastian Negri, Bastareaud referred to him as a “f**king faggot”.

Despite the incident, Bastareaud was included in the line-up for France’s Six Nations squad, coach Jacques Brunel confirmed today.

But the player will not be able to play in the opening match, as the European Professional Club Rugby has issued a three-week suspension.

Mathieu Bastareaud (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

His inclusion in the squad comes as no surprise, as Brunel had defended the player earlier in the week – claiming he could not be homophobic because he is black.

Brunel had claimed that Bastareaud knows what it feels like to be stigmatised because he “has coloured skin”, adding: “I don’t believe (because of this) that he could have acted in such a way.”

He insisted: “There are things we can say on the spur of the moment without thinking.”

 

The EPCR held a hearing this week where the player pleaded guilty to allegations of verbally abusing Negri.

Under World Rugby guidelines, the offence warrants a ban ranging from six weeks to 52 weeks, depending on severity.

Mathieu Bastareaud of Toulon (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Incredibly, the player had his actions defended by his club.

Toulon said: “Rugby Club Toulonnais would like to remind everyone that the Club has always advocated and defended differences between individuals and the respect of these differences.

“The RCT is convinced that Mathieu used these unfortunate comments whilst in a state of aggravation, as can happen regularly during a game of rugby and that he is not at all homophobic.

“This kind of language should not allow people to condemn our captain who has always defended the rich diversity between individuals and proves it every day within our heterogeneous group of players.”

Bastareaud previously took to Twitter to ‘apologise’ for the incident – while he attempted to blame Negri.

France’s outside centre Mathieu Bastareaud (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

He said: “Good evening everybody, I want to apologise for my reactions to the insults from the Italian player.

“I reacted badly in responding to his provocation, I am sincerely sorry for the people I hurt.”

The ECPR added: “As of now, the citing commissioner is considering the incident as part of his routine review of the match, and will make a decision when he has concluded his enquiries.”

The comments had been roundly condemned by other players.

Former England player Andy Good said: “Disgusting from Mathieu Bastareaud. No place in the game for homophobia, @ChampionsCup should throw the book at him.

“Absolutely disgusting and no place for it anywhere. I hope @ChampionsCup make an example of @BastaOfficiel and ban him for a long time.”

The player has a chequered past.

Mathieu Bastareaud of Toulon (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

He notoriously hit the headlines during the 2009 French tour to New Zealand and Australia, when he claimed he sustained injuries during an assault.

Bastareaud claimed to have been assaulted from behind by “four or five men” as he was returning from a night out.

However, New Zealand Police investigating the incident found camera footage confirming that he had returned to the hotel uninjured.

The player later admitted that he had fabricated the story to conceal the fact that he sustained the injuries after tripping over a table in his hotel room.

The surreal incident sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries – which led to the French Prime Minister François Fillon issuing an apology to all of New Zealand.

A gay rugby player recently invited homophobic internet trolls to come and repeat their abuse to his face.

Mathieu Bastareaud of France (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Gareth Thomas, who came out in 2009, issued the challenge to football fans who posted abuse about Brighton and Hove Albion, while following the club for a documentary.

Thomas issued an invitation to members of a Crystal Palace message board, after threatening homophobic comments were posted online.

The player offered an on-camera meeting to the trolls while filming documentary Alfie v Homophobia: Hate In The Beautiful Game, which looks at homophobia in the sport.

The player also witnessed homophobic chants and gestures by Leeds United fans at a match against Brighton.

Thomas said: “The most surprising thing out of everything is the acceptance of the level of abuse – the normality that abuse has been given. I find that unacceptable.

“It’s a human right that we are allowed to be who we want to be – but within this game if you’re not the stereotypical male or female we expect you to be then we’re allowed to abuse you for 90 minutes.

“I would give my right arm to sit down in a room with one of these people, just to understand their views.”

In the documentary, Thomas opens up about his “years of torment” he’d been through before he announced he was gay, having to hide who he really was from the rest of the world.

But he says he was pleasantly surprised by the reaction to the news by those around him.

He said: “It took my team-mates, my friends, my family, probably 30 seconds of contemplation to be able to say ‘it doesn’t matter’. And to me, all of a sudden, life was completely different.”

Related topics: Europe, France, France, LGBT, Rugby, six nations, sport

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