Radio Sport hosts in hot water after describing AFL as 'bloody gay' video

Radio Sport hosts Mark Watson and Kieran Smyth are in hot water after multiple derogatory remarks were made on air during Mark Watson's nighttime show "The Night Train".

A Radio Sport segment has created controversy after its hosts made derogatory remarks about Fijian rugby players, netball referees, and the AFL. 

The Spinoff published an article on Monday quoting host Mark Watson and regular guest Kieran Smyth making homophobic and racist remarks during the June 20 'Controversy Corner' section of Watson's nighttime show. 

Radio Sport boss Steve Kyte said the matter was being taken seriously but refused to comment further.

All Black Malakai Fekitoa "doesn't have rugby brains" according to Radio Sport host.
Getty Images

All Black Malakai Fekitoa "doesn't have rugby brains" according to Radio Sport host.

On the show, Mark Watson said All Black Malakai Fekitoa "doesn't have rugby brains". 

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Radio Sport host Mark Watson, left, is punched by cricketer Jesse Ryder.
PETER MEECHAM/FAIRFAX NZ

Radio Sport host Mark Watson, left, is punched by cricketer Jesse Ryder.

"It's scary, if he gets injured, suddenly you bring Seta Tamanivalu on and you've got two Fijians. [...] Yeah they've got that Fijian flair but they've also got a lot of so-called Fijian deficiencies. And they go AWOL, they go walkabout at times."

Fekitoa was born in Tonga, not Fiji.

Minutes later, the discussion moved on to netball, a sport that neither of the pair appear to be fans of.

After an effeminate impersonation of a netball ref, Smyth said: "I was going to say they're all homos but that's not fair on homos. I love homos."

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Watson pushed back at these comments, but Smyth was adamant that he used the term in a loving way, as he was a gallery owner.

"The gays come into my gallery, they are the nicest guys."

But while the discussion moved onto AFL, the topic of homosexuality lingered.

Smyth recounted a story in which he scolded his daughter for allowing his grandson to confuse AFL team Collingwood with the All Blacks.

"Well I turned to my daughter and said: 'Are you telling me that you really are going to have him play for that tight pants, weird singlet, bloody gay, homo sport?'"

Once again Watson attempted to soften Smyth's remarks, saying the comments were "derogatory".

Smyth responded that he was saying it "in a controversy corner sort of a way," to which Watson responded: "I know, but we have to appease the one percent of people who control society."

The full section of the show can be heard here.

Radio Sport boss Steve Kyte said the matter was being taken seriously but refused to comment further.

"We are taking this very seriously but we won't be making comment on employee matters."

Reached by Stuff on Wednesday, Smyth said he was speaking to his lawyer and the Spinoff article was a "complete beatup."

He later sent a written response to the accusations in which he argued The Spinoff took the comments out of context.

"What Spin-Off has printed selectively confers connotations that weren't intended on live radio," Smyth writes.

"They've sought to establish homophobic intentions over and above my expressed fondness for gay people.

(The original Spinoff article omitted a section of the show where Smyth discusses the homosexual clients of his art gallery and his affection for them.)

"It doesn't make you homophobic to endearingly use the word homo. It doesn't make you a racist to talk about the various, rugby-playing traits of different nationalities. It doesn't make you a sexist for expressing your dislike of netball.

Editor of The Spinoff Duncan Greive called such claims "groundless and grasping", and said he didn't expect another "controversy corner" segment to air.

"I don't think we could have given any greater context than by including both the text and audio of essentially the entire section," Greive said.

"The recording are there for anyone to listen to - that's what people are responding to.

"I doubt there will be another 'controversy corner' as a result

Greive said sports culture in New Zealand was caught in a "jurassic era attitude towards anyone who is not a straight white man."

Attitudes were evolving but the process was slow.

"If 'controversy corner' is so popular then why is it airing at 9pm on a Monday night? It just a kind of relic that is left way offpeak to kind of just smoulder along till someone pays it attention.

Radio Sport colleague Daniel McHardy shared the article on his public Facebook page, describing the on-air discussion as "lowest common denominator reporting."

"Too often a minority of voices across a variety of media platforms have let our collective industry down on issues pertaining to domestic violence, of racism, sexism, and homophobia. The audience deserves better. And we can start with pushing for a higher standard in behaviour. Most basically a desire to raise issues based on considered opinions, rather than meekly revert to attempts at lame humour and offensive social commentaries to spark interest.

"If this leaves me in the "1 per cent trying to control lives" that's cool and my first suggestion is try engaging the other 99 per cent of that brain.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said she didn't find the segment funny and nor had anyone she'd talked to about it.

"The reality is that these kind of people are not and never have been high performance athletes: they have no real idea about what they are talking about except what they see on Sky Sports. I don't pay them a lot of attention and urge our Kiwi athletes to do the same," said Dame Susan.

"They embarrass themselves and they need to grow up. Right now our codes are developing a strategy about diversity and inclusion and it's clear we have a long journey ahead of us."

 - Stuff

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