6 Apr 2012

Racist remarks spark Australian clubs to dump sponsor

5:36 am on 6 April 2012

The Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby side has joined crosstown Australian Rules club the Melbourne Devils in cutting ties with a sponsor over racist remarks by the CEO.

The Melbourne Victory A-League football club is also considering its arrangement with the EnergyWatch company after a series of racist remarks made by the co-founder and chief executive Ben Polis on Facebook.

The comments have been branded extremely offensive, deplorable and abhorrent by the clubs, and the Demons AFL club immediately terminated the major sponsorship, reportedly worth more than $2 million per year, followed by the Rebels on Thursday night.

Polis has admitted to statements attacking Aborigines and Asians, as well as women and Prime Minister Julia Gillard, although he has attempted to pass them off as jokes.

His offensive remarks included one about embattled Demons forward Liam Jurrah, after the indigenous player was recently arrested over an alleged machete attack.

The Rebels say Polis' remarks go against everything they stand for, while the Victory says it not only views as totally unacceptable, but the comments completely contradict their policies of actively embracing multiculturalism and encouraging female participation.

The Demons' loss of a sponsor in such a fashion continues a torrid recent off-field time for the club, which was rocked by the charges laid against Jurrah in March.

And earlier this week, first-year coach Mark Neeld was forced to publicly confront untrue allegations that he had treated the club's indigenous players differently to non-indigenous players.