One of the leading rugby league referees has revealed a litany of vile homophobic abuse he suffered online.
Marcus Griffiths was in charge of the weekend fixture between Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants which saw a number of controversies, most notably the awarding of a drop goal to Huddersfield’s Jake Connor.
Afterwards Griffiths was targeted with threatening messages and slurs, and he posted a screenshot of the messages along with the caption: When people ask ‘why do we still need pride’ This is the reason!”
The messages, sent to his Instagram account, tell him to “die” and use aggressive homophobic language. The account which sent them has now been deleted.
The Rugby Football League condemned the abuse as “disgraceful” and vowed to take the “strongest possible action”.
“All in the sport will condemn the appalling abuse which Marcus Griffiths has received on social media,” said Tony Sutton, the RFL’s chief executive.
“We will provide support to Marcus through Rugby League Cares, and have worked with him in alerting the relevant authorities, whether digital or law enforcement. We would urge all involved in the sport, whether at clubs or even in the media, to consider the consequences of their words and actions.
“Homophobic abuse is a hate crime and punishable by law. We want to be clear that any kind of discriminatory abuse is not welcome in our sport, and we will take the strongest possible action against perpetrators who can be identified. Our officials work under intense scrutiny and pressure. We owe it to them as a governing body, and also as a sport, to support them at all times.”
RFL director and former referee Robert Hicks added: “We will do what we have to in order to support and kick this out.”