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What seemed like a positive idea to color deserted stands as a coronavirus prevention has become a headache that goes beyond sports. It has happened in the National Rugby League of Australia, in a modality of that sport with 13 participants per team that embraced professionalism before the classic XV rugby.
A few days ago, the NRL launched its 'Fan in the Stand' initiative, with which it was intended that when the team returned to the competition, the followers of the team would be virtually present in the matches and, on the other hand, the players would not accuse the coldness of competing in a empty stadium. For about A $ 22 plus additional costs (about € 14) fans would be represented on the rostrum by their photo printed on recyclable paper. One of those dollars is also dedicated to a charitable foundation.
The problem arose on Sunday when, during the game between the Penrith Panters and the Newcastle Knights, a viewer realized that among the paper's supporters was Harold Shipman, better known as 'Doctor Death'. Shipman, a doctor by profession, is considered one of the most macabre serial killers in history: He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 15 people, though a later study concluded that he could have killed 215.
Actually, it wasn't the first skid. In another game on Friday, British viewers had already distinguished Dominic Cummings, the adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has recently caused a notable political crisis, in the stands, "breaking" again all the rules of confinement .
If the Cummings thing could be considered English humor that contributed to giving free publicity to the initiative, the appearance of Shipman was not so funny. So the NRL itself, as a spokesperson told SBS News, has promised to review the selection process for the images that will fill the stands.
If the organization has tried to remove iron from the matter by ensuring that this first weekend was only a test, television has not helped him turn the page either. A gag on Fox Sports joked about the matter showing an image of Hitler among the public.
The image of the Nazi dictator never came to be in the field, but both the chain and the architect of the joke have had to apologize . In the end, the controversy of the competition has been in the stands. And that there was no public.
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