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Volume 10 No. 23
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Canterbury, NRL Settle On $30K Donation Following Channel Nine's Sexism Claims

National Rugby League club Canterbury Bulldogs have escaped with a A$30,000 ($30,500) charity contribution as punishment for its "Mad Monday celebrations" after the club claimed forward James Graham, and not a female reporter, was "the target of most of the derogatory remarks," according to Stuart Honeysett of THE AUSTRALIAN. The NRL said that Tuesday it had accepted the club's recommendation to make a A$30,000 payment to an NRL-nominated charity. The NRL "accepted the version of events" regarding various sexist remarks allegedly aimed at Nine Network reporter Jayne Azzopardi during the club's post-season celebrations at Belmore Oval, the club's stadium in New South Wales. The Bulldogs submitted a report of the incident to the NRL. It stated that some of the comments were "incorrectly recounted and should not be construed as having been directed at the media." The language was "unquestionably offensive, loud and left open to interpretation." The club "did not take adequate steps to ensure its representatives behaved in a responsible and professional manner." While the NRL accepted the situation, Azzopardi maintained that she "had no doubts the comments only turned offensive when she arrived at the ground" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/10).

AGREE TO DISAGREE: In Sydney, Chris Barrett reported that a YouTube video featuring Graham and an elderly woman dancing in a pub was "a bizarre central feature of Canterbury's defence" to the Australian Rugby League Commission. A Canterbury investigation determined that "none of the obscene comments recorded and broadcast by Channel Nine was directed toward the network's reporter," Azzopardi, who was positioned with a crew outside the training facility on the day after the grand final. Club CEO Todd Greenberg apologized to Azzopardi for her hearing the comments but said the parties had ''agreed to disagree'' over their target (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/10).

The London GUARDIAN reported that Canterbury is seeking an apology from Channel Nine. Jaycar Electronics Owner Gary Johnston, whose company is the Bulldogs' main sponsor, "uncovered no evidence" that any players abused Azzopardi with obscene comments. Johnston said, "I think Channel Nine should definitely apologise for what they've done, as far as inflaming a lot of aggravation over what was very little evidence that there was any abusive conversation to the Channel Nine people. It could have been [directed to] someone inside the building, in fact that's the more likely explanation. Channel Nine were secretly recording that conversation without the knowledge of the people inside the building so it was Channel Nine' s conceit that assumed that they were talking to [her]" (GUARDIAN, 10/9).