Former Irish striker Neil Francis has been sacked by Independent.ie following unacceptable comments he made about Lions and Harlequins opener Marcus Smith.
Ireland international Francis was speaking on the Irish post Left wing podcast when he made the remark about Smith, who is of mixed British and Filipino descent and was born in Manila.
“One half of the Harlequins with a David Beckham haircut and an Oompa Loompa tan… you just couldn’t throw it away,” said Francis, who won 36 caps for Ireland from 1987 to 1996.
Although her comment has since been removed from the podcast, the original quotes and the audio have both been shared widely on social media.
A spokesperson for Mediahuis Ireland, publisher of Independent.ie, said: “Neil Francis’ comments were unacceptable and he apologized for it. The comments were originally posted to the podcast last week, but were later deleted by our production team shortly thereafter. This should have happened before its release and we apologize for the error.
“We recognize that Mr. Francis says his comments were unintentional, but we have decided to end our relationship with him and he will no longer be writing columns or contributing to our podcasts.”
Quins said earlier in a statement: “The Harlequins are disgusted by the racist comments by Independent.ie columnist Neil Francis on the newspaper’s rugby podcast, The Left Wing, about the Harlequins, England and the UK. British and Irish Lions opener Marcus Smith on July 14.
“The club firmly believe that there is no room for racism in any part of society, let alone professional sport.”
Former Quins star Ugo Monye, a former Lions and England wing, hit back at Francis on social media.
“The fact that Neil Francis said what he did is appalling, but posting it and no one is challenging him is just as appalling,” Monye tweeted.