Fuimaono-Sapolu hearing adjourned
October 5, 2011
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu is standing by his controversial attacks on the IRB and Nigel Owens © Getty Images
Gloucester centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu will face a World Cup misconduct hearing on Saturday after his case was adjourned for a second time.
The Samoa international is currently suspended pending the hearing, a sanction imposed by judicial officer Judge Jeff Blackett on Tuesday after Fuimaono-Sapolu failed to attend. He did arrive in Auckland for Wednesday's rescheduled session, but Blackett agreed to an adjournment following a request by the player and his legal team.
This was accepted in order for them to consider the charges and enable Fuimaono-Sapolu to honour a commitment attending a Samoan government function welcoming home the Samoa team from World Cup duty.
The 30-year-old accused Welsh referee Nigel Owens of bias after Samoa's tournament-ending defeat against world champions South Africa last Friday, venting his feelings on Twitter. He faces alleged breaches of the Rugby World Cup/International Rugby Board code of conduct.
Fuimaono-Sapolu had already been warned about remarks he made on the social media network site earlier in the tournament. But despite not attending the original hearing, he was interviewed in the studio on a popular New Zealand television current affairs show last night.
Blackett has now requested the player refrain from making any further comment on the case.
The Samoa Rugby Union said they were "extremely disappointed" with Fuimaono-Sapolu's actions in failing to attend, although the player subsequently claimed he had not been informed about it by his Union.
In a statement, the Samoa Rugby Union said: "On receiving notification of the charges, the Union made every effort to contact Eliota, instruct him of the charges and inform him of the hearing details. Contact was attempted via telephone and social media, and attempts were made to determine his location.
"Furthermore, the Union would like to state that comments made by Eliota on New Zealand television are totally unrepresentative of the Samoa Rugby Union and the team, and are exceptionally disappointing by a senior squad member who is supposed to be an ambassador for Samoan rugby."
Samoa were eliminated from the World Cup following their 13-5 loss to the Springboks. Fuimaono-Sapolu questioned Owens' neutrality for the game against South Africa, claiming Wales stood to benefit from a Springboks victory. He also criticised Owens' performance.
Earlier in the competition it was decided the player should not face disciplinary action following a Twitter outburst after Samoa lost their crucial Pool D clash 17-10 to Wales. He had accused the International Rugby Board of "unfair treatment" due to Samoa playing for a second time in four days while Wales had a week off after they faced South Africa.
He compared Samoa's treatment to slavery, the holocaust and apartheid before issuing an apology that World Cup chiefs accepted.
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