Fiji Rugby Chairman Resigns Over Homophobic Comments

Francis Kean
Francis Kean

Fiji Rugby Union chairman Francis Kean has stepped down from the World Rugby Council and withdrawn his nomination for the body’s Executive Committee after allegations of discrimination were published by The Sunday Times.

In a statement, the World Rugby Council notes the decision by Fiji Rugby to stand down Fiji Rugby Union Chairman Kean from the World Rugby Council.

“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in the best interests of the sport that Mr Kean steps down from the Council and his Executive Committee candidature be withdrawn.”

Fiji’s union said it was in the “best interests of the sport” that Kean stepped down until the allegations were validated and confirmed its CEO John O’Connor would take his place on the Council.

Kean has been accused of rampant homophobia when he was in charge of Prisons in Fiji in 2016. The Sunday Times heard a graphic recording of him when he was in charge of the prison service.

As part of a tirade full of violent and homophobic language, he is heard ranting to prison officials that they assault a third and younger official he accuses of not measuring up. The recording was made by the officials, who then fled to Australia for safety.

“We are not breeding poofters and weaklings here,” Kean says. He said of younger trainees: “We must f*** them up.”

He is also heard encouraging his men to assault one particular emerging officer: “Take him out one day for some beers, and while he is drunk beat the crap out of the mother******.”

Kean is the brother-in-law of Frank Bainimarama, who came to power as prime minister after a coup in 2006 but has since been elected, most recently in 2018. At the reception after the wedding of Bainimarama’s daughter in 2006, Kean, who was the uncle of the bride, was involved in a violent altercation with the uncle of the groom, John Whippy, who was badly beaten and was dead on arrival at the hospital.

One Amnesty report states that before his trial, Kean tried and failed to have the judge removed because he had opposed the military coup, which Kean helped to stage as head of the Navy.

More to come.