NRL News 2022: Manly Sea Eagles pride jersey scandal, Ian Roberts, Paul Kent

The former great club Manly Sea Eagles detailed his grief over the players’ riot over the Pride jersey.

Seven Manly stars boycott contest Thursday night against the Sydney Roosters after the club’s decision to wear a disposable pride jersey.

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Players reportedly oppose the wearing of a jersey due to religious beliefs, including the following players: Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Kula and Toafofoa Sipley.

On Monday evening, Manley held an emergency meeting with the players as the club now faces the challenge of contesting a win-winning game without them.

Manly is set to become the first club in rugby league history to wear a jersey that celebrates inclusiveness, with rainbow colors replacing the traditional white trim.

Former Sea Eagles great Ian Roberts, the first rugby league player to be openly gay, was heartbroken by the players’ rebellion.

“I try to see it from every angle, but it breaks my heart,” Roberts said. Daily Telegraph.

“Sad and uncomfortable. As an older gay, this is not unfamiliar. I really wondered if there would be any religious outcry. That’s why I think the NRL never had a pride.”

“I can promise you that every young kid on the northern beaches who deals with their sexuality has heard of it.”

Journalist Paul Kent, however, expressed a different point of view and blamed the club for trying to impose its political views on the playing team.

“Players, as far as I understand, not all, but many of them only knew they were wearing these shirts when they read about it in the newspaper,” Kent said on NRL 360.

“Because of their own cultural and religious beliefs, some of them have problems with that.

“The Manly Club did it without any consultation with the players, they did it without board approval. Basically, it’s a marketing decision and they just assumed everything was fine.

“The club has imposed its own policy on these players and these players have inadvertently become embroiled in this scandal and we hope they will be protected. But now they will be under pressure through no fault of their own.

“It’s an embarrassing sight for a club and it’s not easy. This talk of inclusivity, wearing the Manley jersey for me is inclusion.

“To impose their own political views on players who may not share this and are now forced to deal with the consequences of this is a real oversight on the part of the club and they should be ashamed of it.”

However, social media users did not stop condemning the players for rebelling against wearing the Pride jersey.

Matt Bungard of Wide World of Sports wrote, “I don’t want to hear anything about ‘respecting other people’s opinions’ or using religion as a crutch to hide being homophobic. No problem playing in a stadium filled with alcohol and gambling sponsors, which is also a sin. Well, it’s a joke.”

Tom Reid of Spalk Talk wrote, “As a courageous fan, I would more than agree if these players didn’t play the game or ever again for the club.”

Townsville Bulletin Editor Chris McMahon wrote, “I don’t care if this derails Manly’s season, but if these whips come out of this game over an inclusive jersey, they should be fired for a season without pay.” As an avid supporter of @SeaEagles, that’s enough for me to pack pretty much everything.”

Originally published as NRL world divided by Manly Sea Eagles pride jersey player rebellion