Fans of NRL club the Manly Sea Eagles have responded to the player revolt against the club’s history-making LGBTIQ+ pride jerseys by selling them out within hours.
Seven of the New South Wales’ club’s players withdrew from Thursday night’s match after the club announced the team would wear the pride jersey (above), featuring rainbow stripes and trim.
After the player revolt emerged late on Monday, just hours later the jerseys had sold out online. On the club’s online store, the jersey had sold out in all men’s and women’s sizes.
The seven players refused to wear the jersey due to religious and cultural beliefs. They also said the club hadn’t consulted them about the move.
As a result, the team will play the Thursday match without Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula, Christian Tuipulotu and Toafofoa Sipley.
Manly Sea Eagles owner Scott Penn told the Sydney Morning Herald the club would not backtrack on plans to wear the jersey on Thursday night.
“We’re not going to force them to play, but we’re committed to the jersey and we’re committed to inclusion,” he said.
“We’re not walking away from our position. And we respect their beliefs.
“It’s just disappointing we’re here. We don’t want those players to be outcasts, but as a club we celebrate and support everyone.
“We have only done this from a good-hearted point of view.”
Ian Roberts heartbroken by Manly Sea Eagles saga
Sea Eagles great Ian Roberts, the first NRL player to come out as gay, said the player boycott was heartbreaking.
“I try to see it from all perspectives but this breaks my heart,” Roberts told the Daily Telegraph.
“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.”
Here I am, filthy I missed out on buying some Sea Eagles merch that sold out. A timeline I never expected, but massive ups to the club for promoting inclusivity in the game. Hopefully more jump on board (cc @THEDolphins) pic.twitter.com/yAPcwK8oEi
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) July 25, 2022
— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) July 25, 2022
NRL boss says players have the right to stand down
NRL boss Peter V’landys said the “disappointing” situation was “not political” and the players were not being excluded.
“The game prides itself in treating everyone as a human being. No matter what their race is, their colour, their sexual orientation,” he told 2GB.
“We’re all human beings at the end of the day.
“Rugby league is the greatest game for all. It’s inclusive. But at the same time you have to respect people’s religious beliefs and cultural beliefs.
“Those players are taking a stand and they’ve got every right to. They’ve got freedoms to do so. We live in a free country.
“But as far as the game is concerned, we pride ourselves on being inclusive.
“If you don’t want to be inclusive and you don’t recognise that we’re all human beings and we’re all the same, then you’ve got the right to stand down and not play.
“But the game will always be there for everyone.”
Earlier this year, AFLW player Haneen Zreika chose to miss Pride round rather than wear Greater Western Sydney’s pride jersey, citing religious beliefs.
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