Seven Manly Sea Eagles players will boycott their NRL game against Sydney Roosters on Thursday over the club’s pride jersey.
The Sea Eagles on Thursday will become the first club in the NRL to wear a kit which promotes LGBT diversity and inclusion in the sport.
Local media has reported that seven players – Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula and Toafofoa Sipley – will not play because it ‘conflicts with their cultural and religious beliefs’.
Manly coach Des Hasley has apologised for the poor execution of the initiative; and that players should have been consulted beforehand.
Hasler said: “We are here today to apologise for a significant mistake by Manly Sea Eagles Football Club.
“As you are aware, the club yesterday launched a jersey for the Women in League Round. The change to our traditional jersey was the application of rainbow colours to replace the white lines.
“The intent of our rainbow application was to represent diversity and inclusion, utilising the symbolic colours of pride to embrace all groups who feel marginalised, face discrimination and have suppressed share of voice.
“The jersey intent was to support the advocacy of human rights, patenting to gender, race, culture, ability and LGBTQ movements. Sadly, the execution of what was intended to be an extremely important initiative was poor. There was little consultation and collaboration within key stakeholders.”
Manly Sea Eagles captain to wear jersey with pride
Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans said there will be 17 players on Thursday night who will proudly wear the club’s pride jersey.
He said: “I will be out there proudly wearing the jersey to try to promote inclusiveness and diversity.
“I think eventually once we get over the decision that people have decided not to play, there are people out there making the decision to be out there. So I would encourage people to get behind those people who play on Thursday.”
The Sea Eagles have sold out of their pride jerseys.
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