SAMOA RUGBY PLAYER SUSPENDED FOR TWITTER OUTBURST

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Sapolu calls Welsh referee racist after 13-5 cup loss

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 4, 2011) – Samoa rugby centre Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono has been suspended from all rugby after he failed to appear at a judicial hearing in Auckland on Tuesday following criticism of Welsh referee Nigel Owens on the social networking website, Twitter.

Sapolu Fuimaono had labelled Owens biased and a racist after his side’s 13-5 World Cup loss to South Africa last week and was ordered to appear at a hearing on Tuesday.

The International Rugby Board said the hearing was adjourned by official, Jeff Blackett, when Sapolu Fuimaono failed to appear and the 30-year-old had been provisionally suspended until he faces the charges.

[PIR editor’s note: Fuimaono-Sapolu criticized referees and the International Rugby Organization for unfair rulings during Samoa's game against South Africa's Springboks. He also said in an interview in New Zealand that he was unaware of the judicial hearing scheduled by the International Rugby Board concerning his Twitter rant against the Welsh referee.]

Sapolu Fuimaono, who plays for the English club Gloucester, had said in his expletive-laden tirade last week that he’d retired from international rugby after Samoa failed to qualify for the quarter-finals.

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