Crusaders management to meet players about allegations of homophobic behaviour

Management from the Crusaders rugby team are expected to meet players today to discuss allegations of homophobic behaviour while in Cape Town at the weekend.

South African man Alexandros Paterimos wants to get surveillance footage from a McDonald's restaurant to prove his claim to have been teased with homophobic slurs and limp-wrist gestures.

The Crusaders say they are devastated by the claims and deny the incident happened.

Team chief executive Colin Mansbridge said in a statement yesterday the three players, team management and the South African-based security advisor with them strongly reject the the accusations.

He said they are devastated by the allegation and the implication of homophobic behaviour.

The team flew home to Christchurch last night and is expected to meet the franchise's management today.

Jeremy, who says he was with Mr Paterimos at the McDonalds, told Morning Report he and some friends were at the restaurant after a night out socialising when they were jeered at and their appearance joked about by a group of men.

"At first we ignored it and we proceeded to order our food and wait for it by the counter.

"And then ... one of the Crusaders team members began to record one of my friends on his phone, and proceeded to laugh and mock him."

He said at this stage he was already sitting at a table when his friend told him what had happened. Jeremy said he then approached the team member and asked why he was recording his friend.

Jeremy said the person said "[you] look funny".

Jeremy said they then asked the person to delete the video who said he already had. When asked to prove that he said "make me" and then told them he had deleted it, but said to "f*** off".

"It was then that his team mates started laughing at us, and my other friends who were there with me also saw the other team members who then ripped out their phones too and started recording us themselves while making fun of us."

He said an "elderly man" who appeared to be with the men got involved with defending them in a "very violent and aggressive manner" and "stated that it was fine for the rugby player [to record us] as it was a public space".

Jeremy said they asked if it was fine to record the older man and he gave them the thumbs up, but when his friend took out his phone the man grabbed his friend's arm and took the phone.

Jeremy said they had to ask security to get them their phones back.

He said he and his friends had nothing to gain by lying about what happened, and that it took strength and courage from people in the queer community to come forward in the face of backlash.

Jeremy said there was a video of who he believed to be "the security team for the Crusaders team mocking us", and they are in the process of getting CCTV from the McDonalds but have "been struggling with that".

He said he did not want an apology or anything to happen to the Crusaders team, but was speaking up for the queer community who were tired of these kinds of experiences.

"We are standing up ... for ourselves, we want to be heard, we want to be seen, we are so done with all of this."

Mr Paterimos told Morning Report the men have gone to police to get footage of the incident, after McDonalds told them police needed to be involved before they would hand it over.

They were now waiting for an investigator to be assigned, he said.

"What we have said on our social media is what happened.

"And why we're so desperate for this security footage is because that is going to prove that what we're saying is not some hoax that we've created to get attention," Mr Paterimos said.

RNZ has approached the Crusaders management for comment this morning.

The team's statement yesterday said: "Allegations have been made via social media that there was a verbal altercation between members of the public and some Crusaders players who were out getting food after the match against the Stormers in Cape Town. The original post claimed players exhibited homophobic behaviour.

"The three players, team management and the South African-based security advisor with them, strongly refute the socialised account of what happened. They are devastated by the allegation and the implication of homophobic behaviour."

Mr Mansbridge said in the statement the organisation was committed to inclusivity.

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