Richmond’s Bachar Houli has expressed his sadness at being caught up in a vilification controversy.
Melbourne radio announcer John Burns issued an apology on Monday after it was alleged he had referred to Houli, a devout Muslim, as a “terrorist” during the Tigers’ loss to Melbourne on Friday night.
Burns said that he didn’t remember if he had used that word in a conversation with a friend, but Richmond backed the version of events as recounted by a club official who overhead the exchange and lodged a complaint.
“It’s just sad to hear it especially in this day and age with the way that we celebrate diversity and celebrate all different cultures,” Houli told FoxFooty.
“It’s something that we shouldn’t accept within our society. We’ve come a long way and it is definitely a minority – it’s not the majority of Australians. “We are moving forward, but it’s just sad to see it pop up every now and then.”
Burns, who hosts 3AW morning show `Ross and John’ with Ross Stevenson, is alleged to have made the remark at a club function at the MCG.
He offered his side of the story on 3AW on Monday afternoon.
“It has been suggested to me that during the conversation with my friend I was overheard saying something which that person found offensive,” Burns said in a statement.
“I have no recollection of making an offensive remark, however I acknowledge that a complaint has been made, and the idea that something I have said has offended someone is mortifying to me.
“If I have said anything that has offended anybody I unreservedly apologise, in particular, to the people at the match and the Richmond Football Club.”
Burns maintained that he was not unduly affected by alcohol and that making such a comment would be completely out of character for him.
Richmond released a statement on Monday afternoon backing the official’s version of events.
However, the Tigers also accepted Burns’ apology and consider the matter closed.