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Liz Cambage is responding to accusations of racism after she was accused of calling members of the Nigerian national team “monkeys” in an incident last year.
In an Instagram post yesterday, the WNBA star said she’s willing to be accountable for her role in the fracas between the Australian Opals national team, which she was playing for, and the Nigerian national team they were scrimmaging at the time. But, Cambage insists that she never used any racial slurs and that reports in the Australian media got the story wrong.
“I am very disappointed and hurt by the events and accusations that have unfolded in the Australian media. The recount of what took place in inaccurate and misleading,” she said.
Cambage, whose father is Nigerian, was playing with the Opals national team in a scrimmage against Nigeria last July when a fight ensued. On July 15, she announced that she would step down from the Opals before the summer games in Tokyo to focus on her own mental health.
But reports have since surfaced that provided more detail about the incident from the Nigerian players’ point of view.
Anonymous Nigerian players alleged Cambage had called them “monkeys” in a heated verbal and physical stoush in last July’s warm-up game that was ultimately abandoned.
The tension was sparked when Cambage elbowed Nigeria centre Victoria Macaulay so hard she left a gash in her neck.
It prompted a physical retaliation, which saw Cambage unleash verbally.
“That’s what I recall, the term monkeys, yes. And go back to where you came from,” one Nigerian player told News Corp.
“She definitely did use monkeys or monkey.”
Another Nigerian player said: “She did say, ‘control your monkey’ or something like that.”
Cambage was independently investigated and issued a formal reprimand - but not suspended or fined - after the practice game altercation derailed the Opals’ Tokyo Olympics campaign.
Besides her international fame, Cambage is one of the WNBA’s most recognizable players. A former number-two overall draft pick, this past offseason, the 30-year-old, six-foot-eight center signed a new deal with the Los Angeles Sparks for $175,000. The deal makes her the Sparks’ highest-paid player but ranks her 32nd in compensation in the WNBA, according to SportTrac. She also plays for the Chinese Basketball Association’s Shanxi Loongs.
Aside from her basketball career, Cambage has endeavors as an entrepreneur and an influencer. She co-founded the Vitadrop supplement brand. Her Instagram account has a million followers where she often posts photos from gigs as a celebrity DJ, magazine covers and her campaigns for Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty brand.