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Christian rugby players banned from stadium after boycotting game over team Pride jerseys

by Reuters Journalist
Football jersey Manly Media.png - Banner image
Manly Media

Australian rugby league team Manly has banned its seven boycotting players from their home stadium for the match against Sydney Roosters on Thursday over safety concerns after holding a meeting with police.

The seven decided this week to stand down from the National Rugby League match on religious grounds, after being told to wear a jersey celebrating LGBTQ+ rights.

Manly officials spoke with police on Wednesday and decided the players' presence at Sydney's Brookvale Oval would pose a threat to their safety.

"For the safety and wellbeing of the players, the club has decided that it's best that they don't attend the game," Manly interim Chief Executive Gary Wolman told The Australian newspaper.

New South Wales Police said police officers had conducted a "risk assessment" and were satisfied with "the strategies in place to mitigate any risk to the players and attendees' safety and security."

They added that police had received no formal reports of threats made toward players.

Manly coach Des Hasler said this week the seven objected to the pride jersey, which has rainbow bands replacing the team's white stripes, on "religious and cultural" grounds.

He said the club accepted their position and would provide support to them.

The players, most of whom are Polynesian Christians, have been branded bigots and homophobic on social media.

However, the seven have also been praised by church leaders and defended by conservative pundits who have criticised Manly for "virtue signalling" and condemned the club for failing to consult the players over the pride jersey.

Gay athletes have said the boycott could discourage sports people from coming out for fear they might lack support in club change-rooms.

"To not have this support from your team mates can be devastating to a closeted player," local soccer player Josh Cavallo, who came out last year, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

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