Opinion: Marcelo Montoya Slur Proves We Still Have Work To Do
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Can you believe we are back here again?
It's 2022 and I thought as a society we had come a long way. After everything we have learnt and the progress that has been made, we once again find ourselves in the midst of stupidity and ignorance.
During Friday night's match between the New Zealand Warriors and the North Queensland Cowboys, a disgusting homophobic slur was made by one of the players. It was caught on the referee's on-field microphone and heard throughout pubs, clubs and living rooms.
For a moment you thought to yourself 'no, I didn't just hear that...did I?'
Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya set for heavy punishment following homophobic slur https://t.co/m9l4slI9qw
- ABC News (@abcnews) April 11, 2022
After an investigation into the incident, it was discovered that Warriors player Marcelo Montoya was behind the slur and his outburst was directed at Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt. Montoya believed that Feldt stayed down too long after a tackle, possibly looking for a penalty, and called him a 'f****t'.
Montoya has since been charged and will face the NRL judiciary tonight.
The Warriors Chief Executive Cameron George has come out defending his player.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald: "We're going to show the judiciary, in a respectful way, the person we're dealing with here is an outstanding human being.
"He's very apologetic and the club supports him through this process. Marcelo is a very decent human being who feels extremely bad for offending people in this situation."
George says that Montoya is 'very apologetic', and I honestly believe that. I'm sure he is extremely sorry and regrets what he said and the harm it has caused. But the problem isn't whether he is remorseful, it's why are derogatory words like the one used on Friday night are still being used as an insult in the first place.
As Warrior Marcelo Montoya prepares to face the judiciary for using a homophobic slur on the weekend, the game's first openly gay player has called on the NRL to take a stand. Via @BulldogRitchiehttps://t.co/T6FzZw8npj
- Telegraph Sport (@telegraph_sport) April 11, 2022
Since the incident, I have seen and heard the below defences from footy fans saying, 'he's a good guy', 'it was just a sledge' and that 'it was said in the heat of battle'.
I'm sorry....... what?! I cannot believe people honestly think like this.
Ian Roberts, former Manly, Cowboys, NSW, and Australian legend, was the first openly gay professional rugby league player. He made his thoughts on this event known over the weekend on Twitter.
"This incident saddens me - for the #LGTBTIQA+ youth watching the game on Friday night. For the #LGTBTIQA+ players in the #NRL - those who are out, and those who are still on that journey. And for us as a society," he tweeted.
"NRL should be for everybody. On Friday night - it was not!"
This incident saddens me - for the #LGTBTIQA+ youth watching the game on Friday night. For the #LGTBTIQA+ players in the #NRL - those who are out, and those who are still on that journey. And for us as a society.
- Ian Roberts (he/him) (@didiforget) April 10, 2022
Roberts is right. Inclusivity is always assured and shouted about from the rooftops when it comes to footy, but comments like Montoya's shows how far we still have to go.
Friday night would have caused so much distress, frustration, anger and hurt to so many. For those in the LGTBTIQA+ community as well as everyone who surrounds, loves, and supports them.
There is never a justification for a homophobic sledge and there is no room for it in our game. There is never a reason or an excuse that allows it to be passed off as a 'once off', 'a sledge' or 'just said in the spur of the moment'.
People still associate being a homosexual as bad - and there lies the biggest problem of all.