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Fletcher has admitted to making a racially based comment towards Widders during the game between the Rabbitohs and the Eels at Parramatta Stadium
Fletcher has apologised for his comments and says, as a role model for children, he has made a big mistake.
?I apologise unreservedly for comments that I made to Dean Widders in yesterday?s game,? Fletcher said.
?The comments were totally unacceptable and for that I am sorry.
?My actions have set a very poor example for kids who follow Rugby League and these types of comments cannot be tolerated in our game.
?It is not in my character to make these types of comments and I admit that I made a huge mistake. What was said was in the heat of the battle however it is inexcusable and I fully accept the consequences of my actions.
?My comments were unprovoked and I have spoken to Dean personally about the issue. He has accepted my apology.
?I would also like to apologise to the Aboriginal community, particularly those people who attended the game yesterday at Parramatta Stadium.?
CEO Shane Richardson said that comments like these have no place in the game of Rugby League and the Club has stripped Fletcher of the captaincy.
?The South Sydney Rabbitohs is proud of its involvement with the Aboriginal community since 1908. Many great indigenous players have proudly represented this great Club,? Mr Richardson explained.
?We don?t shirk our responsibility to that community.
?Bryan Fletcher?s actions yesterday were totally unacceptable. They certainly are out of character and he has shown great remorse for his comments, however a clear message needs to be sent that this type of racial taunt is unacceptable by the Club and Rugby League in general.
?To that end, the Club has taken the following disciplinary action:
1) Bryan Fletcher is to be stood down as captain of the Club immediately,
2) He will be suspended from this weekend?s match,
3) He will be fined $10,000. $5,000 will be suspended and $5,000 will be paid to an Aboriginal charity of Dean Widders? choosing.
4) Bryan will assist Dean in his work with the Aboriginal community, and will help him in any upcoming projects he has. Dean does some fantastic work with the Aboriginal community and Bryan will help Dean with these projects as required.
Both Mr Richardson and Fletcher spoke at a media conference held this afternoon. To listen to the press conference, visit our Multimedia section here.
The National Rugby League has issued the following statement:
The National Rugby League has today supported the actions of South Sydney in relation to Bryan Fletcher?s on field comments yesterday.
Since its inception, the NRL has maintained a strict code in relation to anti vilification and has seen its players work hard to ensure better understanding within the community on this and other social issues.
While welcoming the contrition shown by Bryan Fletcher today, the NRL cannot help but underline the message that racial vilification will not be accepted as a part of Rugby League.
?The game drew a line in the sand on this issue years ago and players have supported that stance,? NRL Chief Executive Mr David Gallop said today.
?Indeed it is an encouraging sign for the game that the club has got in and taken action and that the player has accepted that, rather than the NRL having to reinforce the need for action.
?Dean Widders has always been aware of the policy procedures open to him and indeed today?s outcome is very much in keeping with what would have happened had a formal complaint been lodged.
?We certainly support his actions in speaking out to the extent that he has.
?The encouraging sign in all of this is that nobody has had to be reminded of the seriousness of the issue and nobody sees this as something that can bed accepted in the game.?
South Sydney has announced that Bryan Fletcher will be stood down from playing for one week, stood down as captain immediately, fined $10,000 ($5,000 to a charity nominated by Dean Widders and $5,000 suspended), and that he will work with Dean Widders in advancing the cause of indigenous Australians.