Castleford launching appeal over £40,000 gay chants fine

CASTLEFORD Tigers will appeal against the severity of the £40,000 imposed after supporters aimed homophobic abuse at Gareth Thomas – and claim the RFL ignored evidence another club was guilty of the same offence.

The Super League club have taken legal advice and decided to challenge the RFL tribunal which criticised them for failing to take steps to stop the chanting, identify the perpetrators, challenge the chanting and undertake a meaningful inquiry afterwards.

The incident happened during Castleford's game with Crusaders in March and led to the heavy fine on Tuesday.

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"I'd like to reiterate that Castleford Tigers is not a homophobic club," said Tigers chief executive Richard Wright.

"We are not appealing against the need to rid the sport of homophobic chanting; we firmly support the RFL's Respect Policy and carry out projects in the community delivering equality and diversity values.

"The club is one of the most robust in Super League at promoting an inclusive environment for all sections of the community and we pride ourselves on this fact.

"I cannot stress it more that we do not condone homophobic chanting in any situation.

"We are, however, appealing against the disproportion of the fine compared with the charges put forward."

The Tigers, who could give a debut to hooker Adam Milner, 18, when they aim for a fourth successive win with Huddersfield's visit tomorrow, believe they have a strong case.

"The DVD confirms three faint, short bursts of chanting each of five seconds duration, over a period of four minutes," said lawyer Rod Findlay, who is representing the club. "Two of the chants were drowned out by PA announcements and the third stopped very shortly after commencing as there was no support for it.

"This combined total of 15 seconds of chanting late in the game from a small section of the crowd prompted only one complaint to the RFL after the match and no one complained on the day."

Findlay says the RFL brought the charge despite the match commissioner – paid by the governing body to attend games and check on misconduct, specifically abusive chanting – stating the fixture went without incident. Findlay claims that the commissioner's evidence was also not deemed important by the tribunal or included in the disciplinary file.