Senior World Rugby Union chairman Francis Kean stands down following allegations of homophobia

A recording of the Fiji Rugby Union chairman using graphic homophobic language has surfaced.

A portly Fijian middle aged man looks glumly into the distance

Francis Kean, the Fiji Rugby Union chairman, has stood down from his position after The Sunday Times published a recording of him using homophobic language during his time in charge of the Fiji prison service.

A World Rugby statement read: “World Rugby takes all allegations of behaviour that is not in keeping with the sport’s strong and inclusive values and bye-laws extremely seriously.

“While it is important to stress that any allegations must be validated, following dialogue with World Rugby, the Fiji Rugby Union recognises the seriousness of the allegations made and the need for them to be fully investigated, and that it is in the best interests of the sport that Mr Kean steps down from the council and his executive committee candidature be withdrawn.

“The Fiji Rugby Union has confirmed that its seat on the World Rugby Council will be filled by union CEO John O’Connor.”

Francis Kean, who was also a former head of the country’s navy, has long been a controversial choice for the position. He served a prison sentence for the manslaughter of John Whippy, a crime which he committed at the wedding of the daughter of his brother-in-law – the Fijian Prime Minister. Kean served 18-months following the killing in which he “punched and kicked Whippy and was dragged away but returned to kick him in the head,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Daniel Leo, of the Pacific Island players association, recently published an open letter to World Rugby. It read, “Officials in Dublin [WR headquarters] make out that they are in an apparent state of shock at information about Kean that has been in plain sight all along.”

The letter continued, “It is extraordinary to anyone involved in the game in the Pacific that Kean is even on the ballot. His time in office has become a byword for intimidation, vindictiveness, corruption and self-dealing, nepotism, and the threat and realisation of violence.”

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