MX23RW : Wednesday, September 26 07:23:46

Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu handed suspended ban

Fuimaono-Sapolu handed suspended ban
© PA Photos
Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu receives a six-month suspended ban for his Twitter outburst at referee Nigel Owens.

Gloucester's Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu has been handed a six-month suspended ban from rugby following his criticism of referee Nigel Owens.

The 30-year-old centre used his Twitter account to accuse Owens of bias and racism after Samoa's recent 13-5 defeat to South Africa at the World Cup.

The Samoan player's ban has been suspended for two years, providing he apologises to Owens and retracts his criticism, completes 100 hours of rugby community work in Samoa and passes an official referee's course.

A judicial hearing heard evidence from the player and his representatives before handing Fuimaono-Sapolu the suspended ban.

Judicial officer Jeff Blackett said: "[There is] absolutely no evidence that the referee was biased in the sense that he deliberately favoured one side or the other.

"To suggest that Nigel Owens is racist against Samoans is also completely inappropriate."

Fuimaono-Sapolu, who is able to appeal the suspension, will return to Gloucester for the Aviva Premiership season.

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