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Brisbane rugby contest triggers outrage

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 29, 2011) – Qantas has apologised for encouraging two men to dress in blackface at Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup game in Brisbane.

A Qantas competition for tickets to the clash between Australia and New Zealand asked fans how they would show their support for the Wallabies.

Charles Butler won the competition by promising to dress as Fijian-born Wallaby Radike Samo.

Mr Butler and a friend were awarded tickets to the match and turned up wearing afro wigs and black facepaint.

A photo of the men was posted on the Qantas Twitter site, along with the comment "Good work".

The photo sparked outrage among some Twitter users, some of whom accused the airline of encouraging racism.

Qantas took the photo down and apologised for causing offence.

But Samo says the men were paying him tribute and has called the reaction silly.

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council says it is unbelievable that a company which has used Aboriginal icons to enhance its image did not realise the racial connotaions of the blackface costume.

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