Toronto Wolfpack majority owner David Argyle has taken another hit in the racism scandal that cost him his job as chairman and CEO of the transatlantic rugby league team.
The Rugby Football League, the governing body of rugby league in the United Kingdom, fined Argyle 7,500 pounds (C$12,765) for "unacceptable language" and other rule breaches in a racist encounter after Toronto’s 52-10 Betfred Championship win over the visiting Swinton Lions on April 28.
"The RFL takes a zero-tolerance approach to the use of any unacceptable language based on someone’s race," it said in a statement.
Swinton prop Jose Kenga said, after approaching a teammate speaking to Argyle on the field after the game, Argyle looked at him and said "Do they allow black people in Swinton?" and then laughed.
Kenga said he told Argyle "you can’t say that in this day and age and he just laughed, brushed it off and handed over a drink token to me."
Kenga complained to the sport’s authorities and then went public June 6 with his racism allegation. Argyle issued an apology that day and stepped down as CEO and chairman a day later.
"I leave with a heavy heart as I have disgraced rugby and my family which I love," he wrote in an open letter to Wolfpack fans.
The Toronto-based Australian mining and resources entrepreneur remains the club’s majority owner.
The RFL said its investigation found Argyle had breached four of its operational rules involving improper conduct, behaviour standards, unacceptable language and code of conduct.
"The sanction reflects this and the relevant mitigating factors relating to this matter. These include that Mr. Argyle admitted the charge, has apologized publicly to the Swinton player Jose Kenga, has made strong statements denouncing the language and has stepped down from his roles as chairman and CEO," the RFL said in a statement Thursday.
"The RFL is fully committed to ensuring that rugby league is an inclusive sport accessible and enjoyed by all. As such it will ring-fence a proportion of the imposed fine for the ‘Enjoy the Game Campaign,’ specifically regarding the inclusion of BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] individuals in rugby league. The RFL will work with Swinton Lions and/or Jose Kenga on how the funds can best be utilized for this."
The Wolfpack, who currently lead the second-tier Betfred Championship with a 15-1-0 record, host the Dewsbury Rams on Saturday. Dewsbury stands 10th at 4-10-1.