Samoan rugby player apologizes for Twitter rants

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) ? A Samoan rugby player escaped punishment from World Cup organizers after team officials apologized Tuesday for his Twitter comments that compared the team’s treatment to the Holocaust, slavery and apartheid.

Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu took to the social networking site after Samoa lost to Wales 17-10 on Sunday, saying that second-tier Samoa had to play the critical match only four days after its first game while top-tier Wales had a week to prepare.

The tweet he has since deleted said: “Ok, it’s obvious the IRB are unjust. Wales get 7 days, we get 3. Unfair treatment, like slavery, like the holocaust, like apartheid.”

Fuimaono-Sapolu also dared the International Rugby Board to suspend him, saying it would be another injustice.

Rugby World Cup Limited met with Samoa team officials in Auckland on Tuesday, but Fuimaono-Sapolu didn’t attend because players had the day off. RWCL then released a statement saying it considered his comments “inappropriate” and warned the Samoa Rugby Union on future social media conduct.

“RWCL has accepted an official apology and is satisfied with the proactive measures that the union has outlined to RWCL to address the matter,” it added. “There will be no further action and RWCL considers the matter to be closed.”

Samoa said when the players regather on Wednesday, the squad will decide whether to sanction Fuimaono-Sapolu.

Fuimaono-Sapolu was angry at the overall scheduling for Tier Two and Tier Three teams, which often have less time to rest between games than Tier One squads such as the Tri-Nations and Six Nations sides.

Among his initial tweets were:

?”IRB, Stop exploiting my people. Please, all we ask, is fairness. If they get a week, give us a week. Simple.”

?”I wonder how would these tier 1 teams function after only three days rest.”

?”Give Wales 3 days off, and give Samoa a week!! We would kill them!!!”

?”How do we stop the injustice of being treated differently from Wales and the rich? Eh IRB? Tell us.”

The IRB says the top teams have better scheduling because they generate the TV rights money needed for 60 percent of its World Cup revenue. The IRB, in turn, uses that money developing the game in nations such as Samoa, the United States, Canada and Russia to help improve their competitiveness. The IRB has earmarked $235 million from 2009-2012 to invest in the sport.

But Fuimaono-Sapolu was not impressed, continuing his defiant crusade on Twitter into Tuesday, arguing with critics and appreciating supporters.

To a tweeter who didn’t like his Holocaust comment, he wrote: “culling of Maori, Jews, Africans was all atrocious. They started with a thought that one class is better than another. Tier1&2”

Before he knew if he might be sanctioned, he wrote:

?”I want Samoa to receive the SAME treatment! I don’t care about me! It’s more important than me!”

?”Anyone can tackle a man. Try tackling injustice.”

?”I’ll think before I rant when they think before they schedule.”

?”You can’t get punished for speaking out against injustice. That would be unjust.”

He also took a swipe at his coaches, replying to one fan who suggested Samoa’s best players shouldn’t have played the opener against Namibia, that “player management was poor.”

Fuimaono-Sapolu, who has appeared as a replacement in both of Samoa’s matches, brushed aside the controversy. Comparing what he’d done to the recent antics of some England players, he wrote: “its not like I was throwing dwarfs around lol.”