Anger at NRL and Fox Sports after cutouts of Hitler and Shipman used in 'crowds'

Luke Bradshaw
Sports Writer
Daniel Saifiti of the Knights charges against the Panthers. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The NRL (National Rugby League) has come under fire after controversial figures appeared in its crowds of cardboard cutouts and were broadcast live.

Rugby league, one of Australia’s most popular sports, got back underway over the weekend after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With no fans allowed to attend, the NRL gave supporters the chance to have their face on a cutout in stadiums.

The vast majority of cutouts featured fans, but an image of serial killer Dr Harold Shipman appeared in the match between the Panthers and Knights on Sunday.

Fox Sports Australia was then criticised after an image of Adolf Hitler was photoshopped into a crowd for a segment on its Sunday Night With Matty Johns programme.

Fox Sports released a statement. It said: "Fox Sports is very concerned by an incident involving an inappropriate image shown as part of a segment discussing NRL crowd cutouts."

“We are currently reviewing the circumstances and examining the action we need to ensure those involved understand it is not acceptable.

“We sincerely apologise for the offence the image has caused."

Alex Ryvchin, co-chief executive of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, later tweeted: "This sort of stupidity, the casualisation of Hitler, Nazis, and by extension their crimes, is what leads to swastikas being graffitied throughout our cities and school kids being harassed with gas chamber jokes. @MattyShowsFox should tell their viewers it's not on."

After the criticism, Johns apologised for the stunt.

He said: “The segment on my Fox League show on Sunday in which we showed an image of Hitler in crowd cut outs was in poor taste and completely inappropriate.”

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