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WNBA star Liz Cambage denies calling Nigerian team "monkeys" despite evidence

WNBA star Liz Cambage posted an open letter on Instagram denying allegations saying she called Nigerian players "monkeys" during a scrimmage ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The Australian basketball player, currently on the Los Angeles Sparks roster, said the incident was handled privately nearly one year ago and expressed her dissapointment over the continuous accusations. Cambage, 30, was reportedly caught on camera elbowing a Nigerian opponent in the head during a closed-door practice match in Las Vegas, according to a special investigation by The Daily Telegraph.

Australian officials reportedly ended the scrimmage early following the altercation, for which Cambage apologized. Still, the matter is getting rehashed after Nigerian players spoke to the investigation.

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

Another Nigerian player claimed Cambage told them to "go bak to your third-world country." Cambage, whose father is from Nigeria, insists that she never used any racial slurs during the scuffle.

"The incident that took place during the pre-Olympic scrimmage with the Nigerian team was handled privately, almost a year ago," Cambage wrote. "I am very disappointed and hurt by the events and accusations that have unfolded in the Australian media. The recount of what took place is inaccurate and misleading.

"I did not use the racial slur towards the Nigerian team that has been circulating."

Liz Cambage no longer part of the Opals

Cambage, who recently stated she no longer wanted to play for the Australia Opals, continued the statement by explaining her side of the story. She claims she got hit in the face but walked away and spoke on her mental health.

"After I unintentionally fouled a Nigerian player on court I was then physically assaulted by this player on the sideline of my bench," Cambage explained. "I was hit in the face and pushed to the ground but I walked away. Prior to the game I asked to sit out because I was concerned about my mental and physical health, which I have addressed publicly. We did not have professional referees to manage and prioritise both teams' safety during this highly physical scrimmage.

"This is not an excuse or justification to the events that unfolded or my actions, however, I feel that a full picture of the environment that led to this outcome must be shared."

She ended her statement by once again offering her apologies to the Nigerian team for the part of the story for which she takes responsibility. Cambage is currently in her first season with the Sparks, her fourth WNBA team in six years.

"I have taken responsibility and accountability for my involvement in what occurred," Cambage said. "I genuinely apologised 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."

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