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'I've received death threats': Sacked Top 14 winner breaks silence

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Remy Gabalda/AFP via Getty Images)

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Ludovic Radosavljevic has spoken for the first time after racist remarks against Nevers winger Christian Ambadiang resulted in a 26-week suspension and his sacking by Provence. The scrum-half, who hit the heights with Clermont and Castres in the Top 14, recently had his attempt to train with Avignon stopped by the French rugby federation. 

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Radosavljevic and Ambadiang had clashed on the field in the Provence versus Nevers Pro D2 game last September shortly before the infamous half-time remark that landed the former Clermont Top 14 winner in serious bother. In a compelling interview with rugbyrama.fr, he has now outlined what transpired and how it has since affected his life.

“Coming back to the locker room, with Chris Ambadiang standing two or three metres in front of me, I can still hear him calling for the video to be played by the referee. And there, I said to him: ‘Banana eater, I’m going to hit you, you will see the difference.’ He didn’t even hear me, but Nevers hooker Janick Tarrit said, ‘Oh, that is racist’. 

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“I answered him: ‘You shut your mouth, I’m going to burn you.’ This is how it went. I never said eye to eye to Christian Ambadiang, ‘I’m going to burn you, banana eater’. I am not minimising what I said. No way. I apologised immediately at the end of the game. These words do not reflect my personality in any way, I regret them. I made a mistake, I paid cash for it.

“It is such a strong word that it is difficult for me to speak about it. I challenge you today among my relatives or my former rugby partners over the last 25 years to find someone who will tell you that I am racist. I grew up in a working-class district of Avignon made up of diversity. 

“I grew up with coloured guys, Arabs and I myself am of gipsy origin. Do I get called ‘a dirty gipsy’ on a pitch? It was commonplace and that is part of rugby. What bothers me the most is having to prove that I am not a racist. There is no hint of racism in me, but the world of rugby is a bit hypocritical.”

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Ex-Provence half-back Radosavljevic went on to reveal how even some players from the France national team allegedly targeted him over the controversy. “It’s in difficult times that you see your real friends. Today, I know who I can count on. When I went to the disciplinary committee, my club asked me to prepare a file, urging me to solicit testimonies to say who I really am. 

“I asked former partners in Clermont, guys who are friends with whom I have shared a lot, to testify that they had never heard me say that kind of thing, to say that I was simply not a racist. Many closed the door on me.

“I even remember asking a player from Castres with whom I got along well, with whom I had played. He said, ‘No problem, I’ll do this to you in the evening’. The next day, not having received the email, I called him back. He had changed his mind. But I have also received death threats, threats also from players of the France team. 

“I saved the messages and took screenshots. But the brave behind a keyboard, there are on every street corner, that does not reach me. No one has come to tell me face to face. And again, I am not trying to minimise my comments. I made a mistake, I accept it.

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“There is no such thing as the right to make mistakes. Today, for the slightest mistake, we only expect one thing, and that is to put you in the public arena so that you can be hanged.”

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