Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant has described as "serious" the alleged verbal abuse of a female television reporter during the Canterbury Bulldogs' Mad Monday celebrations, indicating the player or players responsible are likely to face sanction.
Grant, the game's highest official in Australia, said he had been made aware of footage that depicted obscene comments being made from within Belmore Sports Ground towards a Channel Nine journalist yesterday.
Mad Monday turns sour for Bulldogs
The Canterbury Bulldogs are under investigation an unidentified man yelled sexist comments to female reporters from a room inside Belmore Oval.
"Based on what I've heard, there is no doubt this is potentially a serious issue," he said.
"The process that we'll now go through is for the club to determine what actually happened, for the club to prepare their own report with their own recommendation. That will then come to us and we'll have a conversation with them about it."
Asked whether the player or players responsible could be sacked, he said: "I think you have to wait until we actually find out all the facts. But I just repeat, based on my understanding of what's gone on, it's serious."
Bulldogs officials are investigating the allegations.
Channel Nine reporter Jayne Azzopardi contacted Canterbury chief executive Todd Greenberg after the alleged abuse, which included sexist remarks, and he spoke to the commission.
Some of the comments, made through a slightly opened window, were aired on last night's Channel Nine news.
They allegedly included:
- "There are some ladies here to stick their heads in your pants".
- "S--- me off you dumb dog".
- "I want to go and punch you in the face."
Azzopardi is usually a court reporter for Channel Nine but covered the Mad Monday celebrations after the Bulldogs' 14-4 loss to Melbourne in Sunday night's grand final.
Greenberg told the Herald he had apologised to Azzopardi and was investigating who was responsible for the comments.
I spoke with the Ch 9 journalist today and apologised on behalf of the club. That's not how we do our business. Will follow up internally!!— Todd Greenberg (@Todd_Greenberg) October 1, 2012
The club is also dealing with the James Graham judiciary case after the England prop was charged with biting Billy Slater in the match.
The Bulldogs also have six players preparing to go into camp with the Australian and New Zealand teams for the October 13 Test in Townsville.
Greenberg plans to talk to the players before taking action.
The Mad Monday incident followed a rock star welcome for the team when they arrived at Canterbury Leagues Club on Sunday night, with thousands of fans cheering them as they got off the team bus.
After attending a team function with their families, the players posed for photos and signed autographs in the leagues club.
A fan day at Belmore Sports Ground yesterday was cancelled due to the team's defeat but was then moved to the venue for Mad Monday, with each player dressed as a super hero.
The festivities were closed to the media and security guards were posted on the gates.
The Herald was told some players were annoyed that TV networks employed helicopters to fly over the ground and film them.
However, a Bulldogs official told the Herald there was no excuse for the alleged behavior and the club would deal with the players involved.