Airline apologizes for rewarding 'blacked up' fans

Airline apologizes for rewarding 'blacked up' fans

Published Aug. 28, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

Australian airline Qantas apologized Sunday after rewarding two rugby union fans who promised to wear black face paint and afro wigs at the Tri-Nations decider.

The Twitter competition, held earlier this month, asked Australian fans to tell how they would show their support for the team for the chance to win two exclusive tickets to the game with New Zealand at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

The competition winners arrived at the game dressed as their favorite player, Radike Samo, wearing Australia's famous green and gold and with their arms, legs and faces painted black. Qantas posted a photo of the duo on its official Twitter page.

But what was supposed to be "a show of support" sparked outrage among Twitter users, who labeled the "blacking up" stunt "appalling."


Qantas quickly removed the photo and apologized to its followers Sunday morning. "We understand it caused offense to some people, which is why it was removed. We are really sorry if it has upset anyone," the tweet read.

A second tweet added, "We are apologizing to those who found it offensive, obviously it was not our intention. Just meant to show their support of Radike."

But Twitter users hit back at the airline's apology. "Cut it out with the fauxpologies. Say you're sorry for posting the photo that did offend people (not if)," one tweet read. "What that image represents to most people is appalling."

Qantas put the call out for competition entries Aug. 22 and said that the 140-character tweets would be judged on their "creativity ... and reference to the Qantas Wallabies football team."

The winner, chosen by the airline, wrote, "We will dress as Radike Samo. Complete with Afro Wig, Aus rugby kit and face paint."

A Qantas spokeswoman said that the airline contacted Samo, who posed with the fans Saturday night and said he did not have a problem with the winners' costumes.

"These guys were actually paying me a tribute. It was a bit of fun, and I think it's great they regarded me as their favorite Wallaby," Samo said. "I didn't have an issue with it at all. I was glad to be in a photo with them, so I don't know why anyone is getting worked up -- that sort of reaction is just silly."

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