A STORM threatens to erupt over the NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association following online controversy from one of its most prominent board members.
NSW GBOTA chairman Geoff Rose publicly apologised on Christmas eve 2014 for a series of posts on Facebook that were deemed offensive and in poor taste.
That apology has not satisfied some association members, who have threatened to quit if more action is not taken.
Following complaints in October and November, Rose was asked to explain the posts and survived a vote from the board, retaining his position.
That “slap on the wrist” has incensed several NSW greyhound trainers, who say more should be expected from a man who represents almost 2000 members.
Bob Whitelaw, a former member of the GBOTA, said he could not believe Rose had held his position after what he had seen on his Facebook page.
Whitelaw, who has been involved in the greyhound industry for more than four decades as a breeder, trainer, owner and member of numerous boards, said Rose’s comments only hurt greyhound racing.
“I really couldn’t believe that he came out with those comments. The saddest thing for me is that he represents so many people and I don’t think he realises the responsibilities that come with that,” Whitelaw said.
“Our industry has been painted in a terrible light, especially in the Muslim community.”
The images at the centre of the controversy (some pictured below) included “ban the burka” snapshots and a picture making light of an obese woman.
“I left the association some time ago, but if I was still a member, I would have resigned immediately after seeing what he posted,” he said. ”I know other trainers that have done exactly that.”
As many as three NSW greyhound trainers who did not want to be named have confirmed to AustralianRacingGreyhound.com.au that they have left the association because of Rose’s online comments.
One GBOTA member who won’t be leaving is Llandilo native Tony Gannon.
Gannon, who describes himself as a ”breeder, trainer, owner and mug”, has been in the industry for 43 years. He said he was made aware of the pictures from offended Muslim friends.
“I have some Muslim friends that are just fantastic people and one of them asked me if I knew Geoff Rose and then showed me some of his Facebook posts,” Gannon explained.
“They were quite upset and shocked that someone in his position would say such things.
“I took the matter to the association and also approached the Lebanese Muslim Association, apologising on behalf of the industry. To say they were upset with the generalisations they saw was an understatement.”
Gannon wasn’t satisfied with the response from the board.
“This guy represents over 1000 owners, breeders and trainers and he does us all a disservice when he makes these kind of statements in a public domain.
“Anyone else in any other respected position like his would either resign or be asked to resign immediately.”
Gannon said he would not be leaving the GBOTA.
“I know quite a few people have quit, but I’m not going anywhere. The association needs all the votes it can get to bring about real change.”
The man at the centre of the controversy, Geoff Rose, told AustralianRacingGreyhound.com.au the whole thing had been blown out of proportion.
“This isn’t about what I’ve put on Facebook – this is more about certain people doing anything they can to remove me as chairman and take control of the association,” Rose said.
“I’ve already apologised on the GBOTA website and my Facebook page – I did not intend to offend anyone.”
Rose admitted to a ”stuff up” in how people would interpret a picture of an obese woman, but said he used the picture as inspiration for a close family member.
The GBOTA chairman said he could “not recall” posting, sharing or commenting on other pictures, saying he was struggling to grieve the loss of his mother at the time.
Rose said that following the complaints, he felt he had the full support of the board, who voted on his position.
“I can tell you that the majority of the board were more than happy for me to stay,” he said.
“I never considered resigning my position. I have a job to do for the members who voted me in and I’m not going to leave because a couple of people are trying to get rid of me.”