WNBA’s Liz Cambage denies directing racial slur toward Nigerian players before Tokyo Olympics


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WNBA star Liz Cambage has denied using a racial slur directed at the Nigerian women’s basketball team in a scrimmage prior to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. 

Over the weekend, the Daily Telegraph (Australia) reported that Cambage elbowed a Nigerian team member in the head during a closed door scrimmage in Las Vegas before telling the Nigerian players to “go back to your third world country” and calling them “monkeys.” 

Liz Cambage of the Los Angeles Sparks during a game against the Storm on May 20, 2022, in Seattle, Washington.

Liz Cambage of the Los Angeles Sparks during a game against the Storm on May 20, 2022, in Seattle, Washington.
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

“That’s what I recall, the term monkeys, yes. And go back to where you came from,” one anonymous Nigerian player said. “She definitely did use monkeys or monkey.”

Cambage, who is Australian and plays for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, called the reports “inaccurate and misleading” in a Monday Instagram post. 

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“The incident that took place during the pre-Olympic scrimmage with the Nigerian team was handled privately, almost a year ago,” Cambage said in a statement posted to her Instagram page. 

Las Vegas Aces center Liz Cambage yells after a basket on July 2, 2021, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Las Vegas Aces center Liz Cambage yells after a basket on July 2, 2021, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
(Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“I am very disappointed and hurt by the events and accusations that have unfolded in the Australian media,” Cambage continued. “The recount of what took place is inaccurate and misleading.” 

“I did not use the racial slur toward the Nigerian team that has been circulating.” 

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Cambage, whose father is Nigerian, later pulled out from the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, citing her mental health. 

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“Relying on daily medication to control my anxiety is not the place I want to be right now. Especially walking into competition on the world’s biggest sporting stage,” she wrote in a statement. “It breaks my heart to announce I’m withdrawing from the Olympics, but I think it’s best for the Opals and myself.”

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In her Instagram post on Monday, Cambage reiterated that she apologized to members of the Nigerian national team following the incident. 

Australia's pivot Liz Cambage and her teammates react after beating Puerto Rico during the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Feb. 8, 2020, in Bourges, France.

Australia’s pivot Liz Cambage and her teammates react after beating Puerto Rico during the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Feb. 8, 2020, in Bourges, France.
(Guillaume Souvant/AFP via Getty Images)

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“I have taken responsibility and accountability for my involvement in what occurred,” Cambage wrote. “I genuinely apologized to the Nigerian team and I once again, am sorry that these events are being rehashed.”

“I truly hope that I can move forward from this incident and apply actionable effort to be my best self.” 

Cambage is a four-time WNBA All-Star, signing with Los Angeles in February. Through 10 games with the Sparks, Cambage is averaging 15.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Fox News’ David Aaro contributed to this report.





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