SALFORD, England (AP) " Australian rugby league winger Justin Carney has been banned for eight games for racially abusing a black opponent while playing for British team Salford Red Devils.

The Rugby Football League charged Carney with verbal abuse based on race or color after he was sent off during a Challenge Cup match against Toronto Wolfpack on April 23 following comments directed at forward Ryan Bailey.

The 28-year-old Carney pleaded guilty to the offense but contested the severity of the charge. It was upheld by a disciplinary panel, with Carney suspended and fined 300 pounds ($390).

Salford said Carney, who has Australian indigenous heritage, "did not intend his words to be taken in a 'racial' context" and "stands firm on the position that he is not nor has he ever been a racist."

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