A New Zealand journalist has accused referee Matt Checcin of ‘unconscious racism’ after he refused to send Andrew Fifita’s last-minute ‘try’ to the video referee in England’s victory over Tonga.
Sportswriter and broadcaster Phil Gifford claims there was an “unconscious racist element” in the Australian referee’s decision not to review the last-minute drama.
Fifita pleaded with the on-field official to go to the video referee after grounding the ball in the dying seconds, but only after he had dropped the ball.
However, Cecchin backed his own decision, which the majority of other officials have stated was the correct call, which ensured England’s passage into the final.
Yet Gifford has hit out at his decision with his controversial comments.
“I do think it’s incredibly insulting and demeaning and arrogant of the referee to not go to the television match official,” he told TVNZ 1’s Breakfast show.
“Earlier in the game he did it on several occasions and I’ll guarantee that if it had not been Tonga — if it had been Australia playing England — he would have gone to the (video referee).
“I also hate to say it, but I honestly believe — and I’m sure the referee is a good bloke and he would be horrified at the suggestion that there’s a racial element to it — but I think that there’s an unconscious racist element to it as well.
“Here’s this Pasifika team, they’re all Pasifika players obviously, and somehow or another … I don’t think they were taken seriously enough.
“That’s a hell of a football team with some of the best rugby league players in the world and they are up there on the world stage and they were good enough to have won that game.”
His comments have come in for strong criticism as protests continue among the Tongan fans.
— Michael Morrah (@MichaelMorrah) November 26, 2017
60,000 have signed an online petition asking for the decision to be investigated while a march took place in the streets of Auckland.