Manly owner insists club won’t back down from wearing pride strip and admits his team put boycotting players in a ‘tough position’ – as rainbow jersey is so popular with fans it has SOLD OUT
- Sea Eagles owner Scott Penn says club won’t be changing its position
- Stance comes despite seven players standing down from must-win game
- Penn admitted the switch to the pride jersey put some players in a dilemma
Manly owner Scott Penn is adamant the club won’t reverse its decision to wear a pride jersey for this Thursday’s must-win game despite as many as seven players boycotting the match if they’re forced to wear the strip.
However, he admits the change to the uniform – which was reportedly made without consulting any Sea Eagles footballers – has put their stars through the wringer.
‘Players have been put in a tough position. We’re not going to force them to play but we’re committed to the jersey and we’re committed to inclusion,’ Penn told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘We’re not walking away from our position. And we’re respecting our beliefs.’
Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley are refusing to play if they have to wear the inclusive jersey. saying doing so would be against their religious and cultural beliefs.
Manly owner and chairman Scott Penn is adamant the club won’t back down over its pride jersey, despite seven players refusing to take the field in it
Penn admitted the club put the players in a dilemma with the announcement of the new strip on Monday – which was reportedly done without consulting the footballers (pictured, Sea Eagles star Reuben Garrick models the uniform)
It has since been reported that three of them could change their minds and play this week following an emergency meeting with club officials on Monday night, at which coach Des Hasler backed the players’ stance.
While the LGBTQ initiative is driving a wedge between the playing group, it’s proving wildly popular with Sea Eagles fans.
The jerseys with a rainbow graphic replacing the traditional white stripes sold out within hours of the news becoming public.
Manly’s boycotting stars have been blasted by radio stars Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O, who accused them of being hypocrites on their Monday morning show.
‘The whole excuse of religion doesn’t make sense. If they’re all playing in a stadium sponsored by alcohol and all the jerseys are sponsored by a gambling company, it makes no sense,’ Sandilands said.
‘But they’re okay to talk about gambling and encourage that,’ Jackie O added.
The 4 Pines brewing company has the naming rights to Manly’s home ground and the sports betting agency Pointsbet is the team’s main jersey sponsor.
The seven players aren’t happy with the jersey but fans definitely were, snapping them up so fast they sold out online within hours of the boycott news breaking
Penn said the boycotting footballers won’t be forced to play in the strip, but insisted the club ‘won’t be walking away from our position’
Fox League journalist Paul Kent blasted Manly for making a ‘marketing decision’ and failing to consult the players before deciding to unveil the jersey in a TV appearance on Monday night.
‘The players only became aware they were wearing this jersey this morning when they read it in the newspaper,’ he said on Fox League’s NRL 360 on Monday.
‘Because of their own cultural and religious beliefs they have an issue with it and it’s to be dealt with and has to be dealt with fairly quickly.
‘Manly did this without any consultation of the players, they did it without board approval, it didn’t get raised at board level. It’s basically a marketing decision and they just assumed that everything was OK.’