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British Rugby Star Zak Hardaker Faces Second Allegation of Anti-Gay Slur

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British rugby star Zak Hardaker, who was given a five-match ban and fined £300 in June of this year for calling a player a "f--king fag" during the live broadcast of a match, is under investigation again for alleged homophobic abuse, The Guardian reports:

The Rugby Football League has confirmed it has launched an inquiry into allegations that the 22-year-old used inappropriate language during the Rhinos’ 13-12 defeat by St Helens on Friday night...

...“We are investigating an incident during the Super League match against St Helens,” said an RFL spokesman.

If Hardaker is charged and found guilty he may face a suspension of up to eight matches, which would not only end his season with Leeds but would cast a doubt over his availability for England’s Four Nations tour to Australia.

Hardaker, who met with members of Manchester's LGBT community and trained with a gay rugby team following his previous infraction, objected to the allegations in a series of tweets which he later deleted:

Hardakertweets

Tweeted Hardaker:

"People don't know the consequences this has on myself and my family and it's pissing me right off!!!...And the fact that people are saying iv said a homeaphobic (sic) comment or that I'm homeaphobic (sic) is a load of rubbish!! Iv had ENOUGH...Well this is the last straw for me.. Sick of the crap that's coming out about me, nobody knows anything so why would you comment in it"

Hardaker's latest alleged remarks ("f--king poof"), which were captured on a Vine video circulated on social media, were thought to be directed at St Helens second-row Mark Flanagan.


OutSports Founder Cyd Zeigler Talks Michael Sam And The NFL's Homophobia

Cyd

Founder of OutSports Cyd Zeigler sat down with the NFL Network to discuss the St. Louis Rams' decision to cut Michael Sam and not offer him a position on the team's practice squad. Commenting on how much Sam's sexuality has influenced his current position, Zeigler commented, “I don’t believe [Sam's] not at the St. Louis Rams because he is gay. I believe he is not in the NFL because he is gay.” You'll recall that once Sam was cut from the Rams' roster, the 31 other teams in the NFL had 24 hours to either add Sam to their roster or their practice squad. No team chose to do so, leaving Sam's prospects in the NFL uncertain. 

When asked whether the media played a role in Sam's ultimately not being offered a position by an NFL Team, Zeigler made sure to bring up the now notorious report by ESPN on Sam's showering habits in the Rams locker room:

"I think the media played a big role. Last week’s report by ESPN about his showering habits hurt him. I think that it was going so well for a few weeks in the preseason, we were just talking about Michael Sam the football player then all of a sudden last week it was a big reminder of the power of him being gay in the locker room and how much people want to talk about that. And that’s sad to me...He has to [end up on a team’s practice squad]. 

Though Sam faces an uphill battle getting on another team’s practice squad after failing to make the Rams’ squad, Zeigler believes that his talent and ability merit a spot on an NFL team: “If he is not on at least a practice squad in the next couple of weeks right now we have to say that the NFL has a big problem with homophobia."

However, Zeigler still has faith that Sam will ultimately find a place in the NFL, commenting that the organization is in his eyes, "a meritocracy” and that Sam will ultimately find a home on an NFL team for one simple reason: “Sam is too good.”

You can watch Zeigler's interview HERE


Sporting History Made At Gay Rugby's Bingham Cup - VIDEO

Bingham cup

Sporting history was made last week at the launch of The Bingham Cup - the World Cup of gay rugby - in Sydney, Australia.

Two Rugby World Cup-winning Wallabies captains joined senior federal politicians from every major Australian party, the International Rugby Board (IRB) publicly endorsed the event and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) adopted a range of policies aimed at eliminating homophobia.

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The IRB is believed to be the first major international sporting federation to publicly endorse a gay sporting event.

Other international sporting organisations including world soccer governing body FIFA - which came under pressure following homophobic incidents at this year’s World Cup - were challenged to follow rugby’s lead.

John Eales, the most successful captain in Australian rugby history and a board member of the ARU, said:

“We should commend and celebrate the support around the world to address homophobia and discrimination in sport. There is still a great deal of work to do, but I’m hopefully we’ll soon see a time when athletes at all levels feel comfortable being open about their sexuality and playing the sports they love without fear of discrimination.”

IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper said:

“Rugby recognises sport’s wider responsibility to society and its ability to drive social change. Sport can cross barriers. Sport boosts self-esteem and Sport promotes inclusivity and celebrates diversity. We are proud as Rugby grows across every continent that the sport’s strong values of solidarity, integrity, discipline, respect and passion still make a real difference in modern society.”

Senior Australian federal cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull, a long-time advocate for LGBT equality, added:

“A person’s sexuality should be completely irrelevant whether they are playing sports or doing anything else in life.  I’m proud Australians are playing such a significant role in highlighting the need for change. We need to continue working proactively to find effective approaches to address homophobia and change sporting culture.”

The tournament, which was won by the Sydney Convicts, is named in honor of rugby player Mark Bingham who is known internationally as one of the heroes of 9/11.

Watch a report on the tournament launch and the official tournament video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Sporting History Made At Gay Rugby's Bingham Cup - VIDEO" »


Michael Sam Goes Unclaimed By 31 NFL Teams, Rams Pass On Offering Him Practice Squad Spot: VIDEO

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Michael Sam's prospects of becoming the first openly gay NFL player dimmed over the weekend - with Sam failing to be claimed by the other 31 NFL teams after being cut by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday. The Rams also passed on signing Sam onto their team's 10-man practice squad.

Outsports' Jim Buzinski reports on Sam's current situation:

With the Rams out of the picture for now, the number of teams possible to pick up Sam has dwindled. He plays defensive end in a 4-3 system, and that is used by only half the teams. Of that half, most teams are already set at defensive line, so Sam would need to find a team that has a need for his skills. [...]

If Sam fails to be signed to a practice squad this week, he can work out on his own and be ready in case a team needs his services during the season. He can also explore playing in the Canadian Football League, which would at least get him playing time. Teams must announce practice squad acquisitions by 4 p.m. each day, and with the season starting in less than a week, it appears highly unlikely Sam will be on an NFL team this week.

Buzinski also pointed out that, according to NFL data site Pro Football Focus, Sam was rated the 44th best out of 100 defensive ends in a 4-3 scheme - making his inability to secure a practice squad spot puzzling. Previously, Outsports stated that if the other 31 NFL teams passed on Sam - who led the Rams in tackles and sacks in the four-game preseason - homophobia would be a contributing factor

Others, such as Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Eric Wood, placed blame on ESPN's continuous (and, at times, sensational) coverage of Sam's preseason. 

Last week, Rams' head coach Jeff Fisher praised Sams' preseason performance, saying "I believe he can play in this league." Sam himself was also pleased with his performance and said he was "very confident" he would make an NFL roster. 

Watch an ESPN segment with NFL analyst and former coach Herman Edwards sharing his advice for Sam, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Michael Sam Goes Unclaimed By 31 NFL Teams, Rams Pass On Offering Him Practice Squad Spot: VIDEO" »


Michael Sam Survives First NFL-Mandated Roster Cut

Sam

Michael Sam, the first out gay player to be drafted into the NFL, made it past a critical cut in the St. Louis Rams’ roster yesterday, keeping alive hopes that he will make the team’s final lineup. AFP reports:

The Rams trimmed four players from the active roster to reach the NFL-required limit of 75 players by Tuesday, but another 22 players must be dropped by Saturday afternoon to create the final 53-man roster for the regular-season openers.

The Rams play their final pre-season game Thursday at Miami and will open the regular season at home against Minnesota on September 7.

Sam, a rookie from the nearby University of Missouri, is among eight defensive ends competing for up to six expected spots at the position. He ranks third on the right side depth chart but injuries could see the Rams keep more players than usual at the position as a precaution.

Though Sam has had a strong pre-season showing, notably sacking Johnny Manziel on Sunday, Sam’s biggest hurdle to landing a spot on the roster could be another rookie on the St. Louis bench this year, Ethan Westbrooks, who, according to Business Insider and Sports Illustrated, “is playing out of his mind” and “is the apparent frontrunner to take the final roster spot for a defensive lineman.”

The Rams' will announce the final team roster this Saturday. 

(photo via Instagram)


Michael Sam Sacks Johnny Manziel Twice in Preseason Match Against Cleveland Browns: WATCH

Manziel

In last night's preseason match-up between the Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams, defensive end Michael Sam collided with quarterback Johnny Manziel twice.

On the first of the two sacks, Sam even threw up Manziel's "money" gesture as a celebratory jest.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP... 

USA Today reports:

Manziel“He’s a talented kid,’’ Sam said of Manziel. “He isn’t called ‘Johnny Football’ for nothing. It was fun getting to play against Manziel in an NFL game.”

Sam now has three sacks this preseason after he recorded his first last week against the Green Bay Packers.

Manziel said he made sure to give Sam props after the game.

“He had an incredible year when we played them at Missouri this past year,’’ Manziel said. “The guy goes through a lot of stuff. He gets heckled by everybody, I’m sure. He came up to me and said, ‘Hello.’ It was just a brief interaction. He played pretty well.’’

The Rams have one last preseason game against the Miami Dolphins this Thursday - the final chance for Sam to secure a spot on the official season's roster. Final cuts are announced August 30.

Previously, "Michael Sam Makes Historic NFL Preseaso Debut: 'I Can Play In This League' - VIDEO" 

Continue reading "Michael Sam Sacks Johnny Manziel Twice in Preseason Match Against Cleveland Browns: WATCH" »


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