Jason Demetriou has condemned a fan who has been accused of directing racial abuse at Latrell Mitchell during South Sydney’s match against Penrith at BlueBet Stadium.
“It’s not the first time we’ve come here as a club and one of our players has been racially abused. Where does it end? It’s just not on,” the livid coach said post-match.
What was said to Latrell Mitchell in Penrith?
The alleged incident of racial abuse occurred at half-time as the two teams went down the tunnel with the teenager being escorted out of the ground by security.
“It’s not a claim- it happened,” Demetriou said.
“I shouldn’t have to come here as a coach and lead a group of players in and they get racially abused. It’s not what our game is about, and we have to stamp it out completely.
“The NRL and clubs- they have to get rid of it. Life bans. If anyone wants to make racist remarks get them out of the game. We don’t want their support. It’s got to end.”
Asked about the condition of Mitchell in the sheds afterwards, Demetriou declared his fullback was fed up with having to constantly deal with incidents of this nature.
“He’s sick of it. Why wouldn’t he be?” Demetriou said.
“He should be able to come here as a star of our game and not be racially abused. Who cares what colour he is?
“I don’t understand how it happens in our day and age.
“I can’t get my head around how a young kid thinks that that is the language to be using. I don’t care what jersey he’s wearing. Get them out of our game.”
The coach promised the club would pursue the matter further in the hope of punishing the culprit.
“From what I understand, the security has done a great job identifying who it is, and the club has done a great job identifying who it is and now we’ll take it through the police,” he said.
“We’ll go all the way and as far as we can with it.
“As a club, we will stand right behind Latrell and it’s just not on. As far as I’m concerned, we go as far as we can take it.”
The Souths coach praised Mitchell’s character, stating how he continually showcased his quality as a person both on and off the field.
“Latrell answers his critics with his character every week,” he said.
“This isn’t just something that Latrell cops on the footy field, this is something that he’s had to deal with his whole life. All Indigenous people do.
“I don’t understand how in Australia anyone is raised like that. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.
“Latrell is a real role model in our game. We love him at our club. He stands for the Indigenous people, and he stands for good people.
“He’ll handle it, we’ll handle it, and we’ll support him as a club. But he shouldn’t have to handle it. He shouldn’t have to keep dealing with this, it’s just rubbish.”
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South Sydney want life time bans issued for fans guilty of racial abuse
Demetriou immediately called for lifetime bans for any perpetrator who was guilty of racial abuse, while claiming parents should also be punished for their child’s actions.
“I get worried about Latrell and any Indigenous player in our organisation…where as a game do we say, ‘no, it’s not happening’- there has to be hard and fast rules,” he said.
“If anyone even comes close to being racial, they get completely ruled out of our game. And if it’s a young kid, rule his parents out as well.
“If it was my child, I would be absolutely ashamed and embarrassed that my child has even thought to speak like that.
“As far as I know, it was a young 15-year-old. Don’t quote me on that. I’m not pointing my finger at exactly who it is, but from what I understand and from what I’ve been told it’s a 15-year-old.
“As a parent, I’d be mortified if one of my kids spoke like that.”
The Panthers released a statement after the match and said that they would work with the NRL to deal with the matter.
“Penrith Panthers is aware of an alleged incident involving a rugby league fan that occurred at half-time of the Round 2 match against South Sydney Rabbitohs at BlueBet Stadium,” the statement noted.
“The NRL was immediately informed of the alleged matter, and the club will work with the NRL to investigate the situation. At this point, Panthers will make no further comment.”
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Rabbitohs statement on Latrell Mitchell racial vilification
“It is inconceivable that we are talking about racism again in 2023,” CEO Blake Solly said in statement.
“I echo the words of our head coach Jason Demetriou from last night’s press conference. Racism cannot exist in our game, in our society, in any way, shape or form.
“This is a deeply disappointing situation, something that our players should never be subjected to, and we feel as a club that the strongest possible action needs to be taken against the perpetrators.
“Latrell is a strong, proud Biripi man. He stands up for himself, his teammates, his club, his family and his people.
This should never be discouraged by the actions of some people with archaic views.
“I’ve spoken with both (NRL CEO) Andrew Abdo and (Panthers CEO) Matt Cameron this morning and they have both said they condemn this activity and have given me the undertaking that they will investigate this completely and take the strongest action possible.
“We will assist in any way we can because as a club we will not stand for this behaviour. It is abhorrent,
antiquated and needs to be stamped out.
“The only way this is going to stop is if EVERYONE makes the effort to stamp this out. If you’re a fan in the stands and you hear it, see it or read it, then call it out – just as the players from both teams responded to it in the tunnel at the time.
This immediate response from Rabbitohs and Panthers players who heard the remark is the response
everybody should take. Make sure everyone knows this type of behaviour is not acceptable. There is no other way to stop this than to call it out immediately.
“We thank the stadium security and the NRL for their efforts last night and we look forward to a day when our players can perform on the field, our staff and volunteers can do their jobs off the field and our members and supporters can support their team from the stands, without having to be subjected to this type of disgusting behaviour.”