Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sports Sunday - Rugby League assault allegations

South's Ben Teo

Last week for Sports Sunday I blogged about the Women in League round and how I thought it was great that Rugby League where embracing the role of women in league and getting behind some great women charities.

This week the wind was well and truly knocked out of my sails with the news that Souths player Ben Teo is embroiled in allegations of assault against a 22 year old woman.

Teo released a statement prior to Channel Nine airing the story on Wednesday night stating...

I am able to refute entirely any suggestion that I acted improperly. On the night in question, I found myself in unfortunate circumstances that were not caused by me and I acted appropriately to deal with a difficult situation.

What does that even mean?

The woman alleges Ben Teo called her a slut, she hit him in the face with her stilleto and then he continually punched her, knocking her unconscious. A triple zero call was made from the house. The woman ended up in hospital with a fractured eye socket.

This all allegedly happened on 21st April in Brisbane. Now it has become a slanging match of he said, she said.

Questions and comments abound from media and the general public about what really happened.

People are on  both sides of the fence. Some calling for him to be stood down from his position at Souths and charged with assault. Others calling her a liar and all the names you don't want your own daughter called.

The only people who will probably ever know the full truth are Ben Teo and the 22 year old woman.

One thing is certain, this woman was injured by someone.

It is not up to me to say whether Ben Teo is guilty or not. Clearly, I don't have all the facts. That is up to the police to investigate.

But whoever assaulted this young woman needs to be held accountable, whether it is Ben Teo or not.

No woman or man deserves to be assaulted.

This story brings to the attention again footballers who have allegedly assaulted women in the past.

For instance, in 2010, West Tigers Robert Lui was convicted with assaulting his pregnant girlfriend. He was suspended from Rugby League for one year. In 2009, Manly's Brett Stewart was accused of sexually assaulting a 17 year old girl (he was later found not guilty in court). In 2008, Gold Coast's Greg Bird smashed a glass in his girlfriends face fracturing her eye socket.

How many times does this have to happen? I believe that if a player is found guilty of assaulting anyone, there should be zero tolerance. He shouldn't be able to play Rugby League again.

The Rugby League administration need to be doing more to continually educate these young men about violence, along with the effects of alcohol, drugs and gambling.

In 2009, the National Rugby League (NRL) did launch "Tackling Violence" along with the State Government. This program utilises Rugby League clubs to provide domestic violence education and training to club players.

Since the project began, 1500 men from 37 Rugby League clubs have completed the workshop and 1800 have signed the code of conduct to refrain from domestic violence.

Is this enough? The NRL needs to get serious.

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