NRL players need to realise they’re being exploited as a “reality show” whether they’ve done anything wrong or not, Phil Gould says after a new sex tape incident.
A short video clip of a Parramatta Eels player having sex with a woman in a public toilet cubicle has been circulated on social media, apparently filmed over the door without their knowledge or consent.
The incident is being investigated by the NRL Integrity Unit.
Speaking on his Six Tackles with Gus podcast with James Bracey, Gould told Wide World of Sports that the person filming the sex act had acted bizarrely but there would also be questions over the player’s actions.
“Who in their right mind climbs up on the toilet to intervene in what people are doing inside the toilet, I don’t know,” Gould said.
“This will be fought on two lines. One’s the player doing that and is that the way the game is to be portrayed. But why does someone film it without their knowing and then distribute it amongst the media?
“They (the NRL Integrity Unit) are going to look at whether or not this behaviour is what is expected of an NRL professional footballer, as against what is privacy and where does privacy stop.
“Two consenting adults doing whatever they’re doing. These are the arguments you’ll get to … and who in their right mind [would film it]?
“This is the thirst of the public and I guess of the media, because they know they get their reaction from the media. They know it’ll be published, if it involves an NRL footballer.
“Who takes the time out to climb up on a toilet cubicle just to film it, just so they can distribute it?”
Gould was closely involved in handling the NRL’s last major sex tape scandal, while general manager of the Penrith Panthers in 2019. He was wounded by the furore, which saw NRL star Tyrone May plead guilty to four counts of intentionally recording an intimate image without consent.
Gould said that player education on appropriate behaviour and the pitfalls of stardom could not be more thorough. He said that the onus was on players to take greater care with what became public, with the circus surrounding rugby league arguably having become bigger than the game itself.
“Don’t take me down the role model line because I think that’s a different sort of argument. But I think players need to be extremely careful, extremely careful,” he said.
“And if they haven’t read the tea leaves and they can’t see the landscape of what the public are willing to do to them, or what the media will then do to them if they get that information, they’ve just got to be extremely careful, about their own private lives even.
“There will be privacy issues around this and there will be privacy issues down the track as to where this stops and to what sort of access people have into their private lives. But at the moment, it’s a reality show. The football is a sideline to the reality show because the media wants the reality show. They’re more interested in that than the football.
“So this will be blown up and it’s another black eye for the game; whether it deserves it or not, I don’t know. Whether the player should have thought more before his actions.
“The football is an excuse to delve into the lives of the people involved. The actors in the play.
“It’s a reality show. They’ve got to be told that’s what it is. We tell them, we let them know. Over and over and over again; we couldn’t be more forceful with our instruction to that. But it still happens.”
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