Rugby-Fan in Australia prosecuted for online abuse of World Cup match official

  • Rugby
  • Tuesday, 09 Apr 2024

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A rugby fan has faced an Australian magistrates court for abusing a match official on social media during a World Cup match last year in a decision welcomed by the game's global governing body.

New Zealand-born Aaron Isaia pleaded guilty to one count of using a carriage service to menace or harass via online communication at Beenleigh Magistrates Court near Brisbane on Monday.

The 22-year-old was spared a conviction but handed a A$1,000 ($660.50) good behaviour bond for 12 months.

Isaia aimed the abuse at Irish Television Match Official (TMO) Brian MacNeice and his family during England's tight 18-17 pool stage win over Samoa in Lille in October.

"World Rugby welcomes this landmark outcome," World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin said in a statement.

"The vile and toxic abuse is an all too common occurrence for many sports men and women and public figures, and we hope that this sends a very strong message to online trolls that such behaviour is totally unacceptable."

World Rugby struck a partnership with information services company Signify before the World Cup to monitor social media abuse of officials and players during the tournament.

Signify reported 1,600 social media accounts to their platforms for breach of community guidelines during the World Cup.

In January, World Rugby said that one person in Australia had been charged with online abuse and cases in other jurisdictions were pending as a result of the monitoring.

"We are delighted to be extending our relationship with Signify Group to tackle online abuse in our sport," Gilpin added.

"In addition to the support provided to our match officials, the partnership has enabled us to focus on the insights that help us better understand the triggers, tactics and threats and how best to mitigate them."

($1 = 1.5140 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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