A former Australian rugby star player, readying for a tryout with the National Football League (NFL), has apologized for a series of "hurtful" tweets in which he blamed the Jews for killing Jesus Christ.
On July 1, Jarryd Hayne, 27, wrote on Twitter that “Jesus wanted to help people but was killed by his own people" – outraging many of his followers on the social media site.
Despite the anger, the San Francisco 49ers hopeful continued with the claim on July 2, tweeting: “The Jews were the people who took him [Jesus] to the Romans n [sic] forced them to give the order because they couldn’t.”
The tweets were only removed from Hayne's account on July 10 after articles appeared in worldwide Jewish press and Hayne's manager was contacted by Fairfax Media.
Days later on Wednesday, Hayne published an apology on Twitter, which was addressed to the Jewish community.
"I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I have come to understand how my words were hurtful to the Jewish community and this was not my intention. I immediately took the tweets down once I realized my words were incorrect," he wrote.
"I have and will always accept people of all faiths. I encourage my fans around the world to do the same," Hayne added.
Dvir Abramovich, the Chairman of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission, called Hayne's initial tweets "damaging, painful and irresponsible," but welcomed the athlete's apology on Wednesday.
"It takes a champion to admit he made a mistake and I appreciate Jarryd's remorse. As a role model for many, this was an important step," Abramovich said, accepting the "heartfelt" amends.