Fuimaono-Sapolu's hearing adjourned until Oct. 15
Updated: October 05, 2011, 00:07
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand(AP) The World Cup judicial hearing into Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu's comments about referee Nigel Owens was adjourned until Oct. 15 after the Samoa center requested more time Wednesday to prepare his defense against the misconduct charges.
Jeff Blackett of England granted the player's request for a second adjournment as Fuimaono-Sapolu also wanted "to accommodate a commitment to attend a Samoa Government function welcoming back the Manu Samoa team over the weekend.''
Fuimaono-Sapolu had been due to attend an initial hearing on Tuesday but failed to appear and was provisionally suspended from all participation in rugby, with the Samoa Rugby Union accepting a misconduct charge of failing "to control'' the player in his absence.
Fuimaono-Sapolu, who wore traditional Samoan dress to Wednesday's hearing and was accompanied by family members, says he wasn't told by the SRU that he was required to attend Tuesday's hearing. It's standard procedure for the national union to inform players regarding judicial hearings. The SRU said in a statement it had tried to reach Fuimaono-Sapolu via telephone and social networking sites.
The charges against Fiumaono-Sapolu related to comments he has posted on Twitter. World Cup organizers said the player "was requested to refrain from further comment on the case in order to preserve the integrity of the proceedings.''
Fuimaono-Sapolu described Owens as "racist'' and "biased'' on Twitter after Samoa lost 13-5 to South Africa last Friday to be knocked out in the pool stages of the tournament, adding "get s.a into next round. The plan was obvious. Can't wait 2 meet irb members in public.''
The International Rugby Board issued a statement when it announced the initial hearing that the charges against Fuimaono-Sapolu "follows a previous formal warning issued to the Samoa Rugby Union regarding social media conduct by the same player.''
Samoan officials apologized to the IRB on behalf of Fuimaono-Sapolu last week after he likened the team's four-day gap between playing Namibia and the crunch Pool D match against Wales to slavery and apartheid.