It seems like a depressingly familiar story. A rugby league player brutally assaulted his girlfriend and was allowed to keep playing.
But in what seems like a less-familiar story, a male sports journalist attempted to interview the NRL CEO about the incident and was banned.
That journalist is Phil “Buzz” Rothfield, and in this pretty impressive open letter to NRL CEO Dave Smith, he takes the issue of domestic violence into his own hands.
And it’s the most excellent example of “manning up” we’ve seen in a long time.
Trigger warning: This post deals with domestic violence in some detail and may be triggering for some readers.
By PHIL ROTHFIELD
I will never, ever be silenced on domestic violence. You can ban me from interviewing you about this story but while rugby league chooses to ignore such appalling behaviour, it is my responsibility to highlight it.
The fact you allowed a South Sydney footballer to continue playing this year after he pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend made me feel sick. That’s why I wrote about it.
A drunken 98kg player threw a woman into a garage door so hard she suffered physical injuries and who knows what psychological scars.
Imagine if this was your daughter, your niece or a young woman you know. Imagine how livid, how angry you would feel.
On Tuesday I put in a request to your media department for an interview on this issue.
To ask questions why South Sydney’s rising star Kirisome Auva’a had been allowed to continue playing after pleading guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
The request was rejected. I was told I was banned from interviewing you about Auva’a. You weren’t happy with my recent stories.
Instead you agreed to let another journalist interview you from the Daily Telegraph who supported your recent punishment of Paul Gallen [Gallen was suspended and fined for a social media tirade against the game’s officials]. That’s fine by me.
Denying me an interview stinks of censorship but there will be other stories, other days, other sports.
I can live with your attempt to control the media but I will never hold back while the game turns a blind eye to such an important issue in our society.
You can put females on club boards, you can stage a Women in League round and you can put the White Ribbon Australia logo on the Kangaroos jerseys.
It’s all good publicity but you can never run and hide from such a hideous crime that is domestic violence.
Time for change
In Australia an average of one woman a week is killed by a current or former partner.