Samoa center Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono has apologized for comparing the scheduling of his team’s rugby World Cup matches to the holocaust, but said he stands by his complaint that there has been an injustice.
Samoa were beaten 17-10 by Wales on Sunday in their second game in four days. Wales had enjoyed a week off.
Afterwards, Sapolu Fuimaono tweeted that Samoa’s treatment by the International Rugby Board (IRB) was “like slavery, like the Holocaust, like apartheid.”
He continued, in a string of tweets, to berate the sport’s governing body.
“IRB, Stop exploiting my people. Please, all we ask, is fairness. If they get a week, give us a week. Simple. equality, justice,” Fuimaono wrote. “It’s obvious the IRB are unjust. Wales get seven days, we get three. Unfair treatment, like slavery, like the Holocaust, like apartheid.”
“I wonder how would these Tier One teams function after only three days rest. Hey IRB. Suspend me but give Wales three days off and give Samoa a week! We would kill them!” he tweeted.
“You can’t get punished for speaking out against injustice. That would be unjust. Anyone can tackle a man. Try tackling injustice,” he wrote.
An IRB spokesman said they “found the context of them [the tweets] disappointing.”
Sapolu Fuimaono later tweeted: “C’mon guys, obviously rugby does not even come close to what Hitler did! There still is injustice and exploitation in this instance.”
“Delete the analogies. apologies. Issues of injustice remain,” Fuimaono wrote. “Just feel for our people who paid for us to participate, especially the poor children who gave their lunch money.”
He then added: “Its not like I was throwing dwarfs around lol,” in an apparent reference to some members of the England squad who attended a bar in Queenstown last week that was hosting a “Mad Midget Weekend.”
Though Fuimaono, who plays in England for Gloucester, could face disciplinary action from tournament organizers and Samoan officials for the wording of his complaint, the substance of it merely echoes observations regularly made.
Samoa will play all four of their group games in the space of 16 days, while the leading nations such as New Zealand, Australia and England have three weeks and more for theirs.
This is largely because of TV demands for weekend matches featuring the major countries, but the IRB defended the schedule.
“The broadcast revenues that are generated by scheduling around the top nations’ matches are reinvested by the IRB to increase the competitiveness of the likes of the Pacific islands, Russia, USA, Canada etc,” the spokesman said.
“We are investing more than 150 million [British] pounds [US$236.9 million] in the game at all levels between 2009-2012,” he added.