The manager of Samoa's rugby team has reportedly been fined 100 pigs for disgracing his village and discrediting his chiefly title at the World Cup last month.
Television New Zealand's Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver said Matthew Vaea had been ordered by elders of the village of Leauva'a to pay a fine of 100 female pigs after his conduct at the World Cup was criticized by Samoa team captain Mahonri Schwalger.
In feedback to Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Schwalger reportedly said Vaea and other Samoan officials had allegedly treated the World Cup as a "massive holiday," were frequently absent from the team when they had duties to perform and had spent too much time allegedly drinking with friends.
The Leauva'a village council found the allegation against Vaea — a former Samoa international — had disgraced the village and tarnished his chiefly rank.
"When the village elders rule on something, that is what happens. He's been fined for bringing disrepute to his village, which is quite a serious thing," Dreaver said.
Schwalger has been supported by other Samoan players who say the alleged conduct of Vaea and Samoan Rugby Union officials at the World Cup affected their ability to play well.
Samoa were expected to be extremely competitive in New Zealand after beating world No. 2 Australia in a match prior to the tournament.
Their performance fell below expectations and players have complained that officials let down the team by their conduct throughout the tournament. Vaea has already been dismissed as manager and the conduct of other officials is being investigated.
Dreaver said the action of the Leauva'a village council was extremely serious. The 100 pigs had a value of around $2,500 and the fine was considered severe.
"There's more to this than just being fined," she said. "What it's really saying is that the village is supporting Manu Samoa players. This is a huge thing for the Manu Samoa players. It sends a very clear message."
Schwalger told the Prime Minister that the Samoan players felt let down by their officials.
"We as a team feel that our preparation was tainted by not having people in vital positions committed to their duties and responsibilities before every game," he was quoted as saying.
Schwalger said while the people of Samoa raised more than $3 million to fund the team's World Cup campaign, players only received a weekly allowance of around $1,000 — much less than other Pacific teams.
"We talked about the young school students who donated their lunch money to the team, about our people who would rather give to the (team) and go without food on the table, about the special bond the team has with our people," he told the Prime Minister. "It was our responsibility as players to stay true and play our guts out for our people. That was the only reason why the players stayed. It was for our people, not only in Samoa but all over the world."
Prime Minister Malielegaoi told the Samoa Observer he had personally observed the behavior of team officials.
"Some who are mentioned in the report have a habit we call in Samoa 'faapio le kulilima' (bending the elbow)," he said. "I was invited to the VIP area on the night of the Springbok game and I witnessed the truth."