BT Sport Release Statement Following Controversial Portrayal Of Billy Vunipola
Broadcaster BT Sport have released a statement following their controversial portrayal of Billy Vunipola during Saracens’ Champions Cup semi-final win over Munster last weekend.
Vunipola was booed before and during the game by fans as a result of his decision to back Israel Folau’s homophobic post on social media which has resulted in the Wallaby having his contract terminated by Rugby Australia.
During the live coverage on Saturday, BT commentator Nick Mullins said “it’s probably been the toughest week, 10 days” of Vunipola’s life after he scored a crucial try for the two-time European champions.
“First time we’ve seen him smile for a while, I suspect,” Mullins added as Vunipola was named man of the match on the day by co-commentator Austin Healey.
In a statement released to The42, BT Sport said they do not accept “any sort of discrimination, and added they “regret” that they did not make their position clear on the subject
“BT Sport does not accept any sort of discrimination. BT Sport, like the sport of rugby, is inclusive and welcoming of people, players and fans from any background.”
“BT Sport and the on-screen team treated the appearance in the context of the rugby match and acknowledged how Billy’s performance may or may not have been affected by the last week and also the crowd’s reaction to him.”
“We understand that this is a highly sensitive issue and we will always do our best to report these issues in a responsible manner.We regret that during a live broadcast, where context can be misappropriated, some viewers felt we did not make BT’s position on this subject clear at all times.
“We have listened to the responses to the recent coverage and remain focused on ensuring we provide the best possible rugby coverage going forward.”