Los Angeles Sparks and Australian women's basketball team center Liz Cambage allegedly directed a racial slur toward members of the Nigerian women's basketball team during a scrimmage ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, according to an investigation by The Daily Telegraph.
Anonymous members of the Nigerian women's national team interviewed by The Daily Telegraph allege that Cambage called them "monkeys" and told them to "go back to your third world country" during an altercation in a scrimmage that was not open to the public.
"That’s what I recall, the term monkeys, yes. And go back to where you came from," one Nigerian player told The Daily Telegraph. "She definitely did use monkeys or monkey."
Another player said: "I was on the court. She definitely said go back to your third world country. I didn’t hear it, but (teammates) confirmed she called us monkeys."
In addition to making the alleged slurs, The Daily Telegraph obtained a video that showed Cambage elbowing a member of the Nigerian team in the head and slapping another player during the incident.
The altercation eventually led to the Australian national team calling off the game before the end of the second quarter. Cambage apologized to the Nigerian national team the day after the incident, but "it wasn’t well received by every player," according to The Daily Telegraph.
"I think it was bulls--t, I don’t think it was a sincere apology," one Nigerian player told The Daily Telegraph.
Cambage eventually withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics, citing a need to take care of herself both physically and mentally. She previously represented Australia at both the 2012 and 2016 Games.
"Anyone that knows me knows one of my biggest dreams is winning an Olympic gold medal with the Opals. Every athlete competing in the Olympic games should be at their mental and physical peak, and at the moment," Cambage wrote in a statement. "I'm a long way from where I want and need to be."
Cambage, a four-time WNBA All-Star, is in her first season with the Sparks after spending the 2019 and 2021 campaigns with the Las Vegas Aces. She has also played for the Dallas Wings and Tulsa Shock over her six-year WNBA career.