Historic gay pride jersey sparks player boycott in Australia: Seven Australian National Rugby League (NRL) players boycott an important match over the team’s decision to wear a pride shirt.
On Thursday, the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles will be the first team in a competition to wear jerseys that promote LGBT inclusiveness in sports. However, players have not been consulted and some oppose the move for religious and cultural reasons. The club apologized for its way of dealing with the situation.
De Hustler said the club made a serious mistake and confused, disturbed, and distressed many people, especially the groups we are actually trying to support human rights. At a press conference on Tuesday, he apologized to players associated with the LGBT community.
Hasler puts in, ‘They were not included in any of the discussions, and at a minimum, they should have been consulted’.
According to league rules, players on the same team cannot wear different jerseys. Local media have identified the seven players as Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula, and Toafofoa Sipley. The match on Thursday,
, is considered important to the club’s chances of reaching the NRL final, and player attitudes are causing a backlash online.
“What infuriates me (and always has) is that players will boycott over a rainbow but never boycott a teammate if he’s been accused of violence against women or any other morally reprehensible behavior that they would all agree they don’t condone,” wrote Pam Whaley on Twitter.
Others have accused the seven of hypocrisy, pointing out that the team is sponsored by breweries and gambling agencies. Hustler said he respected the men’s decisions and was worried about their well-being in the backlash. Former Manly star Ian Roberts, the first former NRL player to appear gay, says the boycott broke his heart.
“It’s sad and uncomfortable,” he told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.
In the Sydney Morning Herald column, he asked seven players to rethink their position.
“Can you not understand the pain visited upon gay people who, no matter what they do, are disrespected simply for being gay?” he wrote.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese honored Manly for its outlook, stating: “It’s important in Australian society that we respect everyone for who they are.”
This is not the first time Australian athletes have opposed wearing a pride jersey. Last year, AFL Women’s player Honey Zureika was unable to play in the match after refusing to wear a jersey for religious reasons. Few Australian sports stars have appeared. Roberts and others say homosexuality remains a major issue among fans and players of the country’s top tournaments.
Adelaide United soccer player Josh Cavallo (played in October) has called for massive abuse over his sexuality. Israel Folau, who played rugby league, rugby union, and Australian rules football at the highest level in 2015, was dismissed by rugby Australia as controversial for posting anti-gay posts on social media.