Multiple Australian rugby stars are in open revolt and threatening to boycott coming matches after the team’s management told the players they must wear a gay pride-themed jersey.
The players are from the Manly rugby league club in Sydney, Australia.
They are threatening to boycott their Thursday game, arguing that they were not consulted on the decision to wear a gay pride jersey for the match.
Management of the Sea Eagles told the team Sunday night they would be wearing a jersey with an “LGBTQIA+” rainbow design.
The rainbow theme replaces the strip’s traditional white hoops for the match.
According to media reports, Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula, and Toafofoa Sipley are some of the players who are boycotting the match.
The players say they do not want to wear the jersey for cultural and religious reasons.
From Australian rugby league great Ian Roberts (the first player to come out as openly gay) re the pushback against #Manly wearing a pride jumper this week: "I try to see it from all perspectives but this breaks my heart". https://t.co/fAfCgCtikX
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) July 25, 2022
According to The Sydney Herald:
But the disgruntled players had little idea they would be asked to wear the jersey until it was officially released on Monday morning.
It prompted a flurry of phone calls to club officials, who were made aware of the players who did not want to wear the jersey.
Manly legend Ian Roberts, who publicly came out as gay during his playing days in the 1990s, had been an advocate of the club wearing the one-off jersey and has urged the NRL to do more to encourage inclusivity in the game.
“I expected there would some sort of religious pushback.”
Roberts said he would comment further later in the week, but on Monday night said: “It hasn’t totally shocked me like it’s shocking everyone else.”
Manly Sea Eagles 🦅 will become the first club in rugby league history to wear a pride jersey. 😍 As a (gay) boy from Avalon this is pretty amazing to see, even in 2022!
Daily Tele: https://t.co/JwZBncS6Kd
— James Breko (@breko) July 25, 2022
Roberts told The Daily Telegraph:
“I try to see it from all perspectives but this breaks my heart.
“It’s sad and uncomfortable.
“As an older gay man, this isn’t unfamiliar.
“I did wonder whether there would be any religious pushback.
“That’s why I think the NRL have never had a pride round.
“I can promise you every young kid on the northern beaches who is dealing with their sexuality would have heard about this.”