THE BIG ISSUE: #58

The Big IssueBy STEVE MASCORD

SOME people don’t seem to mind being lied to.

When the photo of a woman’s bloodied lip appeared in News Limited Sunday papers, along with the revelation that the person depicted had complained to the Bulldogs in February she had been hit by Ben Barba, the implications seemed to take a long time to dawn on many.

Let’s spell it out (as things stood when we went to press):

· The highest profile player in the NRL was stood down from the start of the season and we weren’t told why;

· A woman complained she had been assaulted by a Canterbury player and the club told neither the NRL or the police;

· The player was arbitrarily allowed to resume playing with the governing body of the competition in the dark over what had occurred;

· The club CEO who presided over all this now holds a senior position at the National Rugby League.

Let’s look at some of the alleged extenuating circumstances. One, Barba may have been in a fragile mental state at the time and making the allegations public would have exacerbated the situation.

Surely he should not have resumed playing until he could deal with the consequences of the allegations. Instead, he resumed playing when he could deal with something that remained a secret. How does that help him?

Two, the privacy of the alleged victim needed to be protected. Well, she is still denying anything happened now – so how would that have been different in February if the claims had been properly dealt with?

Three, that she did not want to go to police. Well, the law of the land and the regulations of the NRL require that such claims be passed onto the police and League Central, regardless.

Todd Greenberg no doubt believes he did the right thing by Barba at the time and if he has to take a fall for it, he’ll have a clear conscience.

But given that the biggest issue in fighting domestic violence (which we stress we are not accusing anybody of) is that it is horrendously under-reported, how can Canterbury promote the Women In League round with a clear conscience?

Hopefully, between me writing this and you reading it, some new evidence has come to light explaining the actions of the club. If not, action against those involved must be swift and harsh.

And if you don’t think a fan has any right to know that a club is covering up alleged misconduct by players, costing it the services of its best player, then I can’t help you.

We’ll just keep working for those of you who believe you do have that right.

NB: Since this story appeared, the Bulldogs have insisted there was no actual complaint from Ainslie Currie. The club has not detailed how apparent her injuries were when she met with club officials, or if there were any injuries.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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