A great read from a good friend who offers another perspective on someone who has had alot to say on behalf of himself and his views on Rugby, Samoa and everyone else.
"by Michel Mulipola on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 12:29pm
I’ve been mulling over writing something for the last couple of weeks but have only decided to write something now after seeing Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu’s interviews last night on Close Up and John Campbell Live.
I may get some heat for my views, but they are my views and opinions. I am an artist not a writer so I will most likely make some mistakes.
My name is Michel Mulipola and I’m a proud Samoan, born in New Zealand. My grandfather was from Lefaga/Iva/Manono and my grandmother was from Maluafou/Vaimoso/Sinamoga. Now, my grasp of the Samoan language is minimal for which I do regret. To those who will read that last sentence and dismiss me as not being a ‘real’ Samoan, then you can check your elitist attitude at the door.
Why have I just disclosed my name and part of my family history? Because I have a different point of view to Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu and according to his Twitter, you can’t have an opinion unless you’re Samoan. “Dont ever tell me what samoa can and cant be proud of. youre not samoan.”
Isn’t that in essence, racism in itself? The exact same thing he unrepentantly said of Nigel Owens, the referee of the South Africa vs Samoa game. “I can understand the hate!! Haha good luck u racist biased prick.”
He constantly dismisses people’s differing views on his Twitter account with very childish retorts in “omg!!! are u samoan?!” and “you have done nothing for samoan people so losing your respect is losing nothing.” He dismisses other people’s comments based on the fact that they are not of Samoan heritage, so what entitles him to comment on the scheduling of the RWC being “like slavery, like the holocaust, like apartheid”. To use his rationale, he is not African-American/Jewish/South African. What entitles him to comment on those incidents? He would’ve been better suited referring the scheduling to the Samoan flu pandemic of 1918 or the Dawn Raids of the 1970s, tragic incidents that directly affected Samoans and Polynesians. Appearing on John Campbell Live, Eliota’s explanation for those comparisons are contradictory, “Now obviously in this instance there wasn’t a culling of six million Samoans or six million Jews - sorry, six million rugby players - but essentially the root of that evil was ‘I am allowed to treat this person like shit.’ So there’s a parallel there, albeit a very small one.” Albeit a very small one. That last sentence nullifies his comparison to the holocaust et al because he basically admits that he overreacted with that last sentence.
But he got the spotlight put on the injustices of the IRB. Though controversial as he is, Eliota successfully managed to highlight the inequities that Tier Two and below nations face at the Rugby World Cup and international rugby in general. He just went about it the wrong way. The RWC match schedule was known 2 years ago so why is it now, after they played a couple of games that he decides to tweet about the injustice of the schedule. The schedule is gruelling and unjust for the ‘minnow’ teams but you knew before hand going into the tournament what the schedule was like. In fact, RWC Chief Executive, Martin Sneddon, has called for a better schedule. “It’s been difficult for some of the teams, there is no doubt about that. Patently it’s not right and needs to be worked on.”He even calls for a lengthening of the tournament in the future, “You’ve got a set window for the tournament. The only way you can avoid the situation that has happened is to lengthen the tournament by seven days and that’s not a decision for us, that’s one for the IRB and their members. If they did that they could get around some of scheduling issues.” The ball is now on the IRB’s field and it is in their hands whether they can change the game or keep playing it like they’re used to.
The mouth-guard fine issued to Alesana and Manu Tuilagi were absolutely ridiculous, as everyone else believes. Something as miniscule as a mouth-guard, which you’d need microscopic lenses to even see the logo, costs you a $10,000 fine because it was an “offending non-approved mouth-guard.” It shows the pettiness of the IRB and their sponsorship guidelines. Eliota hit out on the commercialisation of sport, “Commercialisation has unfortunately overcome all reason and rationale. $$$ first, player welfare last.” Commercialisation in sport has been prevalent since the advent of professional sport. I agree that sponsors and corporations have too much power and spend too much money on sportspeople while the fosterers of our next generations, teachers, are paid peanuts in comparison. Eliota is a professional rugby player, and as much as he doesn’t like the commercialisation of sports, the reality is that that very same commercialisation is what allows him and his team mates the opportunity to make money doing something he loves.
Scrolling through Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu’s Twitter page, one thing that came across was his arrogance. He subscribes to the “I’m right, you’re wrong” method of thinking. He even says so on John Campbell Live, “It’s just blatantly obvious, you don’t have to be a rocket science (sic) to work it out, but you have to be an idiot not to see it.” If you don’t see it his way, you’re basically an idiot. For someone who has a degree in Law and Commerce, contrary to popular belief, I find his tweets and his interviews lacking in eloquence. I applaud him for getting his degrees and having a back up plan after life as a rugby player, but throwing around law related buzz words like “natural justice” and “actualbias and apparent bias” does not a good argument make. When called out on his immature tweet about “Irb, my bum, kiss it!” by John Campbell, Eliota tries to skirt around the issue by struggling to find examples of smart 14 year olds. Later on in the interview, Eliota resorts to cursing to get his point across which make him sound uncouth and ineloquent. His credibility took a hit when he used the word “shit” to express himself, which I believe is a cardinal sin for a lawyer. As a lawyer, he should’ve been able to articulate his argument in a more civilized manner. And it’s not just the interview where he should be more articulate. Examples from Eliota’s Twitter:
@Eliota: “You should let the kids run your Twitter account, there’d be a decrease in the amount of crying.”
Eliota: “maybe let them write your dry nut replies too. 5 year olds come up with better lines than that piece of shit you piece of shit.”
@Eliota: “Onlyignorant people resort to personal abuse when they can’t argue their point. Sad.”
Eliota: “#nekminnit only ignorant people try argue without getting their facts right. Sad”
These are not the replies of a lawyer, they’re more suited to an adolescent teenage boy. There is no defending whatsoever just flat out insults. I hear Eliota used to be a pretty good battle MC back in the days, I see no evidence of that in his tweets. He argues that “its twitter. you cant debate in less than 140 characters. haha people take it all way to seriously!” As a lawyer and a battle MC, he is trained to use words to their greatest effect. Use those 140 characters to get the point across. But he could be forgiven his frustration. What can’t be forgiven is in the way he decided to vent his frustration. His outspokenness and ranting has taken away from what the Manu Samoa team accomplished last Friday night and what Tonga did the following night. It was one of the greatest weekends for Pacific rugby where they earned the respect of rugby fans all around the world. This week, rather than celebrate our accomplishments, they’re all talking about Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu, even me. We have decided to focus on the negative rather than embrace the positives. Was the Manu Samoan team hard done by? Definitely. Was I swearing like a drunken sailor during the game? Of course. But at the end of the day, what happens on the field stays on the field. They are professional rugby players, they should be professional in conduct. There were many bad calls made against Manu Samoa by the referee, Nigel Owens, but to question his performance and insult him is unprofessional. Do players question each other and launch into a verbal tirade when they have a bad performance? I know that Manu Samoa players were justifiably frustrated but the extent that Eliota went to criticize the referee was uncalled for. Eliota’s tweeting tirade of Nigel Owens incited many of his followers and supporters to threaten and abuse Owens via Facebook and Twitter. Eliota likes to talk about “injustice” andhow “a group of people are treating another group of people like crap,” isn’t that what Eliota and his supporters are doing to Nigel Owens? Bullying and abusing one man because he made some bad decisions IN A SPORT, seems to me to be “a group of people are treating another group of people like crap.” Some of the threats and abuse hurled at Nigel Owens has been very nasty, ranging from death threats to homophobic slander (Owens is openly gay.) I find that behaviour by my own people, supposedly proud Samoans, abhorrent. It is nothing to be proud of.It is the type of behaviour that proves the stereotypes Eliota brought up about Samoans being thought of as “thugs… violent… stupid.” Nigel Owens is only human and will make mistakes, we all do. Owens posted on his Facebook saying “I go out to referee every game to the best of my ability. Fairly and honest, just like the way I have been brought up to be. I am human and will make mistakes on the field and will hold my hand up when I do, and if I do that, I shall have no regrets. But one thing I am not is a racist and a cheat.” We all know that Samoans are a stoutly religious nation, does it not say in the Lord’s Prayer to “forgive us our trespassers as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Rise above the pettiness and the anger, people.
Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu likes to tweet about how he does this for the Samoan people and to fight injustice. Shouldn’t he then be focussed on some of the real pressing issues facing Samoans? The corruption of the Samoan government, the inexplicable missing Tsunami relief funds, issues that directly affect the Samoan people. Issues that Samoans can actually have a say in enacting change. I’d prefer the time and energy spent fighting those injustices.
I was once asked by a friend, “Why are the Tongans smashing you Samoans in supporting their team?” I replied, “That’s because we do our talking on the field.” And the rugby field is where the talking was done. In the game against South Africa, Manu Samoa showed the world exactly what Samoans are made of. Rugby fans all around the world stood up and took notice of Manu Samoa. I do not envy the Manu Samoa team and the burden they carry on their shoulders with the hopes and dreams of the Samoan people. The Samoan people gathered money out of their own pockets (even if it was a little bit) to help the Manu Samoa team get to the Rugby World Cup. Unfortunately, all that effort has been marred by the controversy surrounding Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu and his Twitter rants. Samoans are a proud, strong people so it pains me to see so many of them play the victim card. I will not be seen as a victim of bias, of injustice, of unfairness. I urge my fellow Samoans to hold your heads up high and be proud in what we have accomplished. Do not sulk and whinge and whine about how we should’ve won. We didn’t win the game but we earned the respect of the rugby world. That is a victory unto itself. At the end of the day, rugby is just a sport.
All Eliota had to do was calm down and let cooler heads prevail. It is fine to feel frustrated but think before you act. All he had to do was wait. “What part of wait do you not understand?”