The NRL has issued an apology to Eels star Junior Paulo after the game’s social media account tweeted a photo of the prop with a caption that included a gorilla emoji.
Following the Eel’s win over the Broncos on Friday night, the NRL’s official Twitter and Instagram account posted a photo of Paulo celebrating a try with the caption “JUNIOR”, alongside an emoji of a gorilla.
The tweet stayed up for more than 30 minutes before it was deleted, but the post on Instagram remained after the gorilla emoji was replaced with a steaming face.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said the league’s social media team made a “very bad error of judgement”, with the employee who created the post unaware of the racial connotations.
“This was a very bad error of judgement,” Abdo told AAP.
“The emoji was clearly inappropriate and it should never have been posted.
“I have personally apologised to Junior and the club and we are reviewing our social media processes to ensure there are stronger checks and balances in place before an item is posted.
“We will also engage in further education programs with the team responsible for our social media accounts.”
An Eels spokesman confirmed the club was happy with the NRL’s response following the incident.
“The club is comfortable with the NRL’s response to the issue and we consider the matter to be resolved,” the Eels spokesman said.