James Harrington provides everything you need to know about the incident during the match between Provence and Nevers – and what happens now
Investigations into racial slur in ProD2 game explained
Cameroonian rugby player Christian Ambadiang’s damning social media post, in which he exposed a racist slur made against him during a ProD2 match last week, has prompted French rugby to take a long, hard look at itself and its attitudes towards BAME players.
After the match between Provence and Nevers on Friday, winger Ambadiang – who moved to the club in central France from Southern Kings in 2020 – revealed on social media that he was the victim of a racial slur in the ProD2 game.
He did not name the player who had said: “I will burn you, banana eater,” but his scathing Instagram post cut right to the heart of the ongoing issue of racism in rugby in France, as well as the lack of action from officialdom.
“‘(The) worst part is that the people (the referees) that are supposed to be on the lookout for such behaviour tend to turn a blind eye to it,” he wrote.
“It’s so funny that we are taught to be the better person and walk away and to disregard what the person said but sometimes it’s really so difficult because how do you really protect yourself from the act of racism[?]”
He added: “We really need to do better than to overlook these issues because it can have a psychological impact…
“I’m not a big social media personality but I hope that [this] gets to the right people and that something needs to be done about it. We as players in the broader rugby community should endeavour to stand up for ourselves or for other[s] whenever we experience such racist behaviour.
“We need to do better.”
Has the player been identified?
Former Clermont and Castres scrum-half Ludovic Radosavljevic, who joined Provence in 2020, publicly identified himself as the guilty party when he posted an apology on his own Instagram page, which has just over 1,000 followers – fewer than Ambadiang.
“I would like to publicly and officially apologise to Christian Ambadiang for my remarks, which are unacceptable,” Radosavljevic wrote.
“I appreciate the seriousness of my actions and take full responsibility for them. This is not part of my values, nor those that I pass on to my children. I remain a human who makes mistakes and learns from them.”
How has rugby reacted?
Radosavljevic’s vile words have attracted universal condemnation from a number of well-known players.
Simon Zebo called for a lifetime ban for the player, as he summed his views up in two Twitter posts.
And Nemani Nadolo’s opinion is equally succinct.
Players were not the only ones to voice their disgust. Brive president Simon Gillham tweeted: “If this terrible incident of racism against Christian Ambadiang from @usonneversrugby turns out to be true, I very much hope that @LNRofficiel and the disciplinary commission will take the appropriate sanctions.”
Ugo Monye added:
Rugby fans, too, were disgusted.
What has the club said?
Radosavljevic’s apology was posted on Monday 7 September, two days after a press release from Provence Rugby in which there was no attempt to hide from, deflect or deny what Ambadiang had posted on social media.
The statement, posted on the club’s website the day after Friday night’s match, read: “Provence Rugby learnt yesterday that Christian Ambadiang, a player from Nevers, was the victim of racist insults by one of our players.
“Despite the latter’s apologies, and his irreproachable behaviour since his arrival at the club, this is unacceptable. This indeed undermines the club’s project, which has made societal issues one of its reasons for existing.
“Provence Rugby would like to apologise to Christian Ambadiang and, more generally, to all those who may be shocked by the situation. We are too.
“The management of the club will now meet with [the] player and put in place sanctions commensurate with the seriousness of the facts.”
And the league?
Recognising the seriousness of the situation and the need for decisive action, the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) and the FFR have agreed to launch a rare joint disciplinary investigation.
A statement published jointly by the league and the union reads: “This exceptional joint referral, from two bodies committed to diversity, concerns the unacceptable remarks made by the Provence Rugby player Ludovic Radosavljevic against USON Nevers player Christian Ambadiang during the match.”
Racial slur in ProD2 game: what happens now?
Two investigations are currently ongoing but sanctions will almost certainly follow given Radosavljevic’s public admission.
The LNR and FFR are constrained by the disciplinary rules. For “verbal aggression which includes, without being limited to, any aggression based on religion, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation”, the penalty is a suspension of between six and 52 weeks.
Provence, too, have launched their own internal investigation, and are likely to impose their own sanction on Radosavljevic, whose contract is due to run until June 2023.
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