Toronto owner says sorry to Swinton forward over alleged racial abuse

Toronto owner David Argyle has apologised after allegedly racially abusing Swinton forward Jose Kenga.

The Lions front-rower posted a tweet on Thursday night highlighting an incident after their loss to the Wolfpack in Canada back in April.

In the social media post, Kenga said that Argyle asked him “Do they allow black people in Swinton?” while passing him a token for a drink after the game.

Kenga tweeted: “I have remained silent about the racial abuse I suffered while in Canada in April at the hands of Toronto Wolfpack owner David Argyle.

“I have gone about things the right way, but I feel that I need to speak up.

“After the match I approached my team-mate, who happened to be talking to the owner. As I got close, he looked and said ‘do they allow black people in Swinton?” and he laughed.

“Myself and Jack [Hansen] looked at each other and we were shocked. I said you can’t say that in this day and age and he just laughed and brushed it off, and handed over a drink token to me.

“This is not a matter that should be swept under the carpet. People who are racist ought to be held accountable for their actions.

“I have never felt so little in my life and can’t believe that people can still have such a racist mind.

“To make the comment is one thing, but to laugh it off is another, which made me feel powerless. There’s no room for intolerance, ignorance or racism.”

Argyle made a swift response through a statement via the club.

The Wolfpack boss ‘apologised unreservedly’ for his actions towards Kenga.

He said: “As soon as I tase made aware of Jose Kenga’s tweet relating to our conversation after the match in Toronto on April 28, 2019, I reached out to the Swinton Lions senior management team.

“I have requested to speak directly to Jose and apologise personally for my words, which I hope to do as soon as possible. I deeply regret making Jose feel terrible, and must stress that it was never my intention to do so.

“We take great pride in making Toronto an amazing experience for all travelling teams and their loyal fans. We try to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome.

“However, that day I feel short on delivering those standards. I take full responsibility and I want to unreservedly apologise to Jose, Swinton Lions Toronto Wolfpack and our great fans for my comments.

“Since 2018, I have always maintained that Swinton Lions are the best touring fans we have ever hosted in Toronto, and I will do all I can to rebuild my relationship with the club, players, Jose and their fans.”

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

The Rugby Football League has opened an investigation into the racial accusation.

An official RFL reads: “After being made aware of the tweet from Jose Kenga last night, the RFL’s compliance department has opened an investigation.

“We have a zero tolerance approach to racist behaviour of any type.”

Swinton chairman Andy Mazey has declared the club’s full support for Kenga as the investigation takes place.

He commented: “In light of the serious statement released by our player and colleague Jose Kenga last night, Swinton Lions wish to make clear our 100% support for Jose, as well as utterly condemn all racial abuse or discrimination on any grounds whatsoever.

“Such behaviours have no place in society, let alone in a family sport such as rugby league. The club is in direct contact with Jose, The RFL and Toronto Wolfpack.”

Swinton face Toronto at Heywood Road in a televised match on Sunday, 6pm kick-off.

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