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Campese apologizes for Ahmed ‘go home’ tweet

September 9, 2013

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Rugby World Cup winner David Campese apologized Monday for writing on Twitter that Pakistan-born Australia cricketer Fawad Ahmed should “go home” if he didn’t want to wear a sponsor’s beer logo on his team shirt.

Campese’s comments last week about Ahmed, a naturalized Australian who fled Pakistan in 2009 and claimed asylum, were branded “bigoted” by Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland and led the SuperSport TV channel in South Africa, where Campese lives, to temporarily drop the 1991 World Cup winner as a rugby pundit.

“Pending an inquiry by SuperSport, Campese will not be a guest panelist on any of its channels,” the broadcaster said in a statement. “SuperSport does not accept conduct which is offensive, intolerant or discriminatory.”

Campese, who played 101 rugby tests for Australia and once held the world record for international tries, was reacting to Cricket Australia’s decision to allow Ahmed not to wear the alcohol logo because of his religious beliefs. In his tweets, Campese said he agreed with former Australia test cricketer Doug Walters, who was quoted as saying of Ahmed: “I think if he doesn’t want to wear the team gear, he should not be part of the team.”

Campese then wrote on Twitter: “Well said doug. Tell him to go home.”

The former Wallaby apologized Monday, also on Twitter, posting: “Just like to say sorry for ... comments. It is about sport and never has or will be about religion.”

Campese said he would telephone Cricket Australia to say sorry and ask the national body to pass his apology on to Ahmed.

Spin bowler Ahmed made his debut for his adopted country in the ongoing series in England after being granted citizenship. South African cricketer Hashim Amla, the world’s top-ranked batsman, has also been given permission to not wear a sponsor’s beer logo on his shirt because of his religion.

SuperSport spokesman Clinton van der Berg said Monday the channel was holding an inquiry into Campese’s comments, which would be concluded in the next couple of days.

Campese also made contentious comments on Twitter last year when he questioned an Australian newspaper’s decision to employ a woman as a rugby writer. He described the reporter as “a girl” who had “no idea about the game.”

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