Sports Minister Grant Robertson has spoken out amid the Manly pride jersey saga, calling it “really disappointing”.
Up to seven Manly Sea Eagles players may boycott the team’s match against the Sydney Roosters on Thursday in protest against the club’s new LGBTTQIA+ pride jersey.
The Sea Eagles had announced it would be wearing the rainbow-colored jerseys to promote inclusion of the rainbow community in rugby league.
The players – Haumole Olakau’atu, Jason Saab, Josh Schuster, Tolutau Koula and Kiwi stars Josh Aloiai, Toafofoa Sipley and Christian Tuipulotu – say they were not consulted before the jerseys were released, and that cultural and religious beliefs are behind their reasons for not wearing them.
Robertson, who is openly gay, told reporters he was “really disappointed” in the players’ decision not to wear the jerseys.
“I think a lot of sports have tried very hard over recent times to create more inclusive environments. The NRL hasn’t yet had a Pride round before as far as I understand so it’s a really important step forward,” he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said New Zealand works “really hard to try and make sure that what we do in the sport area is inclusive” and that we “support individual sporting organizations to provide that environment”.
“On a personal level, yeah, I find it really disappointing to see that. I hope that Manly goes ahead with their plans.”