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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 4 March 2021

Rugby League's World Cup boss resigns after leaving abusive and threatening voicemail

“I left a voice message that said I’m really disappointed and pissed off and I’m going to go for you and I was going to tell the world about the lies.”

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD Cup chief executive Michael Brown has resigned, admitting he “stepped across the line” when he left an angry voicemail for the Penrith Panthers chief.

Brown reportedly left an abusive message for Panthers CEO Corey Payne after Payne complained his team was snubbed for a World Cup game following Tuesday’s draw for the 2017 tournament.

The recording was reportedly sent to National Rugby League (NRL) executives for review.

“I left a voice message that (said): I’m really disappointed and pissed off and I’m going to go for you and I was going to tell the world about the lies,” Brown told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph yesterday.

“I didn’t respond like I should have and I’ve got to take responsibility for my action. It’s not the normal way I behave,” the former AFC Asian Cup chief added.

I stepped across the line. I’ve loved the game and this has made me cry but I’ve made the right decision.”

Australia’s National Rugby League said on Saturday Brown was stepping down for family reasons, without providing details.

Brown, who also quit his role as chief commercial officer for the NRL, said he was reluctant to move on, especially with the World Cup in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea 15 months away.

“However, the task of taking on two such senior roles, especially away from my hometown of Melbourne, has been particularly stressful,” he said in a statement.

“The World Cup preparations are well advanced and I am very confident the foundations are in place for a successful tournament.”

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and World Cup chairman George Peponis said they understood Brown’s position and had accepted his resignation.

The board of the 2017 World Cup will consider plans to replace Brown, the NRL said.

The World Cup is scheduled to kick off in October 2017.

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