Former sports CEO apologises over behaviour during Tonga-Australia game on July 14

Former Chief Executive (CEO) of Sports in Tonga and the Ministry of Internal Affairs Dr Fotu Fisi’iahi  has apologised for his behaviour at last Friday’s rugby game in Nuku’alofa.

Dr Fotu Kuo Hiko Vāleli Fisi’iahi

Eyewitnesses said that during the match, in which Tonga’s Ikale Tahi defeated the Australian A team 27-21, Dr Fisi’iahi  jumped up and grabbed an Australian flag from a Tongan spectator and threw it away.

The spectator and his friends said they were Tongans living in Australia and were supporting Australia because it had become their new homeland.

Dr Fisi’iahi ‘s behaviour drew immediate criticism with accusations that he had acted badly and did not respect the flag.

It was also said his actions were inappropriate and unprofessional given his positions in the government and education.

When approached by Kaniva News for comment, Dr Fisi’iahi made the following statement.

“It was true there was banter between me and a lad called Sione at the grandstand  and he was holding an Australian flag.

“I  became over excited and removed the flag from Sione’s hand and threw it to the front where a police officer was standing.

“It was unfortunate that this had happened and I wholeheartedly apologise to the supporters of the Australian team as well as those people who were there with us for behaving badly and disrespectfully.

“I do not want to dispute it and wanted to apologise and that would not happen again in the future.”

Dr Fisi’iahi was chief executive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Youths and Sports  before his contract was renewed in May for another four years. However, he resigned last month to run in the Tongatapu 10 parliamentary by-election last week. He was unsuccessful.

Asked whether he would return to his former position as chief executive of the Ministry, Dr Fisi’iahi said he was having a holiday with his family before looking at what to do next.

Dr Fisi’iahi is no stranger to controversy.

In 2016 he was convicted of assaulting another patron at the Cosmopolitan Club in Mangere, Auckland. He was sentenced to six months’ home detention and 200 hours community work. He appealed the sentence, but lost. In its judgement the court noted that he had an immaculate record, had entered an immediate guilty plea, had shown remorse, had undertaken counselling and paid NZ$10,000 compensation.

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