Ian Roberts wants HUGE change to the way matches are televised to help stamp out disgraceful on-field slurs as he tells NRL to ‘draw a line in the sand’
- Montoya was referred to NRL judiciary on Tuesday following homophobic slur
- He was caught through the television mics calling Cowboy Kyle Feldt a f*****
- Former rugby league hardman Ian Roberts is Australia’s first openly gay player
- Wants to see broadcasters delay coverage to avoid future slurs being televised
Rugby league’s first openly gay player has called on the NRL to ‘draw a line in the sand’ when it comes to disgraceful on-field slurs – starting with live TV coverage.
Ian Roberts labelled the conduct of Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya last Friday ‘incredibly damaging’ and believes the code has a responsibility to future stars of the sport who may be struggling privately with their sexual identity.
Montoya was charged with contrary conduct after calling North Queensland winger Kyle Feldt a ‘f****t’ during the Warriors’ win over the Cowboys in Redcliffe and will face a judiciary hearing on Tuesday night from 6pm.
Roberts would like to see the likes of Fox Sports and Channel 9 introduce an audio delay to ensure comments of a similar nature are not heard by viewers.
‘I think the broadcasters also have a responsibility to have some sort of a delay button,’ Roberts said.
Ian Roberts labelled the conduct of Warriors winger Marcelo Montoya last Friday ‘incredibly damaging’ and believes the code has a responsibility to future stars of the sport who may be struggling with their sexual identity
‘Maybe a 30-second delay so these comments don’t make it to air.’
The NRL waited 44 hours before laying charges, investigating the incident on Saturday and waiting for further video before Montoya was finally cited.
The significant delay infuriated Roberts, who believes Montoya’s conduct should have been condemned much earlier.
‘I’m obviously disappointed about the incident, it’s saddening, I understand things are said in the heat of the moment, but there needed to be a quicker response from the clubs and the NRL,’ Roberts told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘To leave it for two days… what was said was very audible over the telecast.
‘I don’t care if someone calls me f—-t, but I’ve said it so many times, there are people out in the suburbs and regional areas who are really struggling with their sexual identity, and those comments have consequences.’
Roberts, who played 213 first-grade games for South Sydney, Wigan, Manly and North Queensland, pointed to the A-League’s support of Adelaide United’s Joshua Cavallo, who came out as gay in 2021 with the full backing of the league.
‘What the soccer did with Josh Cavallo at the start of the year, the crowd attacked Josh with homophobic slurs, but they came out the next day and said they would not tolerate such behaviour,’ he said.
‘By doing so they embraced the LGBTIQA+ community. That’s what disappointed me with the league. Had they made statements straight away, that to me is embracing inclusion.
‘I work with the NRL, we do an inclusion program, and they’re great, but it’s times like this when things play out…sport has the power to bridge gaps in society.’
The Warriors issued a statement on Sunday with apologies from Montoya and club chief executive Cameron George.
Marcelo Montoya was referred straight to the NRL Judiciary after his homophobic slur and is facing a lengthy stint on the sideline
‘Both Marcelo and the club are extremely apologetic for the offence this has caused. It was unacceptable,’ George said.
‘Marcelo accepts responsibility and knows there’s no place for such behaviour both in the game and in society generally.’
Cowboys CEO Jeff Reibel released a statement on Monday morning, also condemning Montoya’s behaviour.
‘We were extremely disappointed to learn a homophobic slur was used by an opposing player during our match against the Warriors on Friday night,’ he said.
‘There is absolutely no place for hurtful or divisive language in our game.
‘As a member of Pride in Sport Australia, the Cowboys are committed to being a club who promotes diversity and inclusion for all.’
Montoya is tipped to receive a lengthy suspension from the NRL judiciary for the homophobic slur.