Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Samoa star now facing probe after Twitter outburst

Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu could face disciplinary action after accusing the International Rugby Board of “unfair treatment” towards Samoa.

over scheduleTough schedule: Samoa’s Kane Thompson trudges off dejected after the defeat to Wales





The Gloucester centre posted a string of messages on Twitter, criticising the World Cup fixture scheduling after Samoa were given just three days off before their game against Wales.

Fuimaono-Sapolu accused the IRB of exploitation and compared Samoa's treatment to slavery, the holocaust and apartheid.

The fixture schedule is more onerous on the Tier Two nations because World Cup organisers want to timetable the leading countries in prime-time slots to maximise commercial revenue.

Sixty per cent of the IRB's World Cup revenue comes from broadcast contracts and that money is then reinvested in the game, to set up high performance centres in countries like Samoa and Argentina.

It is understood the only way the IRB can solve the current fixture issue would be to reduce the tournament to 16 teams, which would undermine the very point of trying to grow the game.

An IRB spokesman said: “There were many important factors that were taken into consideration in finalising the World Cup 2011 schedule.

“Central factors considered were fan appeal, spread of matches across New Zealand and broadcast considerations as well as player welfare.

“While it is unavoidable that some teams have a more compressed schedule than others, we have worked to ensure no team has two three-day periods in a row as well as minimising travel.

“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.

“We are investing more than £150million in the game at all levels between 2009-2012, including £45 million in additional strategic investments for Tier Two and Tier Three unions as a result of the commercial success of Rugby World Cup.”

Fuimaono-Sapolu could be disciplined if he is found to have broken the World Cup code of conduct, which contains social media guidelines. There is also an onus placed on each nation to enforce those guidelines under the participation agreement.

Samoa coach Titimaea Tafua insisted after the game with Wales that his side's short turnaround was “not an excuse” for their 17-10 defeat, but Fuimaono-Sapolu was enraged.

He wrote: “IRB, Stop exploiting my people. Please, all we ask, is fairness. If they get a week, give us a week. Simple. £equity £justice.”

He later added: “Ok, it's obvious the IRB are unjust. Wales get 7 days, we get 3. Unfair treatment, like slavery, like the holocaust, like apartheid. F*** U. Give Wales 3 days off, and give Samoa a week!! We would kill them!!!”

Georgia battled hard against England after just three days off. Coach Richie Dixon, who also works as a high performance consultant for the IRB, said he would flag the issue up to the World Cup organisers.

England manager Martin Johnson said: “I've got nothing but praise for Georgia and what they do.”

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