Former North Sydney and Queensland great Billy Moore put his foot in it during his regular appearance on Fox Sports’ NRL 360 program on Thursday night, using a racist term when talking about the New Zealand Warriors.
Host Ben Ikin quizzed Moore on the Warriors’ prospects of reaching the finals without injured linchpin Shaun Johnson, to which Moore responded by saying, “they’ve still got that ability to score points, because they play that coconut-style, Polynesian sort of football, throwing it around”.
Overseas, the term ‘coconut’ is regarded as a racist insult, accusing a person of betraying their cultural roots by implying they are brown on the outside and white on the inside. But in this part of the world, ‘coconut’ is more commonly deemed a derogatory term used to describe Pacific Islanders.
The Origin icon’s gaffe could not have come at a worse time, with the Adam Goodes saga dominating headlines all over Australia in a firestorm that has transcended the AFL bubble and even sport itself.
Moore’s offhand ‘coconut’ remark provoked an immediate backlash with media outlets throughout New Zealand and on social media, but – unsurprisingly – Fox Sports has made no mention of the incident and appears content to sweep it under the carpet.
— Nigel Vagana (@NigelVagana) July 30, 2015
— Bodie Friend (@MeanderingBear) July 30, 2015
After that “coconut” faux pas, I think Billy Moore’s #NRL360 prospects might be 1 o clock.
— Michael Minty (@MichaelMinty63) July 30, 2015
Although not mentioning Moore’s insensitive terminology directly, NRL CEO Dave Smith took to Twitter soon after the show ended to emphasise the governing body’s stance on racism.
To be really clear there is no room for racism in @NRL. We will not have it. Very disappointed if anyone thinks that is acceptable. It’s not
— Dave Smith (@DaveSmithNRL) July 30, 2015