Australia’s star Liz Cambage denies using racial slurs toward Nigeria’s women’s basketball team. What do we know?
As she deals with the strain on her mental health, the former WNBA star made it clear that she did not do what she’s been accused of, but what’s the truth?
Racism has no place in sports and far less anywhere else for that matter, which is precisely why the allegations facing the Australian star are serious, but that’s also why she’s taking them as such after she strongly denied any wrongdoing.
Australia’s Liz Cambage denies using racial slurs against Nigerian players
According to her comments in an interview on Monday, Former WNBA star Liz Cambage flatly denied accusations stating that she directed racial slurs toward players on the Nigerian national team during a pre-Olympics scrimmage in 2021. Further to that, Cambage also claimed that she is currently in the process of leaving the Australian team with the intent of playing for Nigeria. This latest development follows on from a report from May of 2022 which indicated that Cambage referred to players on the Nigerian team as “monkeys”, before telling them to “go back to your third-world country” during a scrimmage between Australia and Nigeria in Las Vegas. Adding further weight to the idea, was the fact that a video of the scrimmage circulated online in which Cambage appears to use excessive physical force in multiple situations with Nigerian players before finally being removed from the game.
For her part, Cambage denied the reports when they initially went public in 2021 and then proceeded to withdraw from the Australian national team while citing concerns about her mental health. To that end, she did not participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics which had been delayed by the global pandemic.
So, what happened with Liz Cambage and what did she say?
It’s worth noting that Basketball Australia, the country’s governing body for the sport, did, in fact, initiate an investigation into Cambage’s conduct, the result of which was a formal reprimand, but no fine or suspension. Also worth noting is the fact that she has not played for the Australian national team since. Speaking about the situation on Monday, Cambage once again reiterated the idea that she did not use racial slurs toward any Nigerian player before directly addressing why her version of events contrasted those given by others who were present. To that, the WNBA’s single-game scoring record holder simply responded by saying, “A lot of girls don’t like me.”
“I don’t really lean towards racially backed insults,” Cambage said. “That’s not how I go. I’m very pro-Black. I did not say these [things] to these girls. The truth looks a lot worse for other organizations involved, than using me as a scapegoat.” It was at that point that she spoke of her possible switch to Nigeria’s team. “We’re filing for me to leave the Australian national team so I can represent Nigeria,” Cambage said. “I’ve been in cahoots. I’ve been talking with them since all of this happened. This is what I mean. People don’t know the truth.”
Nigeria’s Promise Amukamara pushes back
Conversely, both of Cambage’s claims have been outrightly contested by the Nigerian team’s Promise Amukamara. “I’m sorry but this is false,” Amukamara wrote about Cambage joining Nigeria. “Lol.” Amukamara then continued by saying, “She called us Monkeys & told us to go back to our country. “Yes she said that! Literally everyone from both teams have the same story BUT her, so y’all do the math! The only person she has been in ‘cahoots’ w/ was the former coach of our National team & he’s no longer the coach, so there’s that!” As for Cambage, After leaving the WNBA’s Los Angelas Sparks in 2022, she joined Maccabi Bnot Ashdod of the Israeli professional women’s basketball league.
Cambage last played in the WNBA in 2022 for the Los Angeles Sparks, but left the team mid-way through the season to focus on “healing and personal growth.” She most recently played in Israel for Maccabi Bnot Ashdod.