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Racist fans will be treated the same as trouble-making players: Greenberg

On the day South Sydney Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis answered questions about alleged racial abuse, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg was on hand in Sydney's west to celebrate Harmony Day and declare the game will never stop educating the community on inclusiveness.

More than 200 high school students attended the day in rainy conditions, with Greenberg reiterating the need to continue implementing programs to fans across the code.

Greenberg also announced three additional frameworks – inclusion, anti-discrimination and anti-vilification – to be put in place from junior competitions through to seniors.

"This is an important day for the game," Greenberg told

"We've been doing this for a long time and with government support it allows us to spread a message of being inclusive.

"Inclusiveness is one of the game's four values but they're easy words to write on a wall. It's a much greater challenge to live it and breathe it every day whether it's the elite level of the NRL or right down to the base of our junior rugby league communities."

"We think we've got a responsibility to do that and working side by side with the government to spread a message."

School students at Harmony Day at Wentworthville.
School students at Harmony Day at Wentworthville. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

While Greenberg was full of praise for the initiatives put in place by the code during its six years of involvement, the reality of Saturday night's incident at Panthers Stadium in which Inglis was verbally targeted by a spectator at full-time has offered a fresh reminder for the game.   

"It will continue to happen, unfortunately," Greenberg said.

"I'm a realist to know from time to time isolated issues like that will happen. But that doesn't stop for one minute the work we do.

"It makes it more important because whilst we continue to make huge strides, there are parts of our community that need more education and help to understand that ignorance still goes on.

"We won't tolerate it but will continue to put our foot forward and standing up for what's right. It steels our resolve in a lot of ways that one we're on the right path and two we've got to keep doing it."

Questions have been raised over Greenberg's promise of a hefty punishment to the offender should they be identified, with rugby league supporters indicating it is double standards when the code supports troubled players with domestic violence and abuse history and allows them to later return to the game.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg at the NRL's Harmony Day.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg at the NRL's Harmony Day. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

While Greenberg maintained cases shouldn't be compared, a similar process is set to be put in place for abusive spectators.

"It's a different case [to other issues] but what we'll do if we can find the culprits we'll put them out of the game for a period of time. We'll then give them the opportunity like we do with others to learn the ways forward," he said.

"The only way that can happen is if there is a willingness to learn different behaviours. That opportunity will be available for anyone like that.

"The principles will be similar. We're open to [apologies] all those sorts of things but we're open to learning, to change around some of those long-held behaviours. That doesn't happen overnight but like anything in the game, it's about people learning about misdemeanours and trying to make themselves better people." 

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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