Australian rugby league club apologize for ‘mishandling’ release of Pride shirt after several players refused to wear it


By Ben Morse, CNN

An Australian rugby league club have apologized for their “mishandling” of their pride shirt release after several players said they would boycott the game.

The National Rugby League (NRL) Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have announced a special, one-off shirt in which all white space in the traditional kit will be replaced with rainbow colors to help promote inclusivity.

However, a day after the shirt was revealed, several Manly players said they would not play in the game against the Sydney Roosters on Thursday because they had not been consulted on the kit, citing religious differences and culture, according to ARL Committee Chairman Peter V. ‘Landys.

And on Tuesday, in a remorseful press conference, manly coach Des Hasler apologized for the way the shirt launch was handled, as well as failing to consult with his players.

“The intention of our jersey’s rainbow color application was to represent diversity and inclusion…encompassing all groups who feel marginalized, face discrimination and have a suppressed share of voice” , Hasler told reporters.

“The intention of the shirt was to support advocacy and human rights relating to gender, race, culture, ability and LGBTQ movements. Unfortunately, the execution of what was to be an extremely was poor There was little consultation or collaboration among key stakeholders, both inside and outside the club.

“Unfortunately, this mismanagement has caused a lot of confusion, discomfort and pain for many people. We have even had a negative impact on our group of players, a wonderful group of people comprising many different races and cultural backgrounds.

“We sincerely wish to apologize for the mistakes we have made. We wish to apologize to minority groups within the community who adopt the colors of the rainbow as a symbol of pride in who they are and what they represent.

“We would like to apologize to the LGBTQ community for embracing the color rainbow for pride, advocacy and human rights. We accept your cultural beliefs and hope you can accept our apologies.

Hasler confirmed that the players will not take part in Thursday’s game against the Roosters, but that the club will continue to wear the “Everyone in the League” jersey.

Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans, who sat alongside Hasler for the press conference, said none of his teammates or staff were made aware of the kit’s existence before it was launched, but explained that it was meant to “represent diversity and inclusion for all”.

He also said he would “proudly wear the jersey to try to promote inclusivity and diversity.”

The matter came up ahead of the NRL’s annual ‘Women in League’ round, which is used to highlight working women in the game. Hasler apologized for threatening to upstage the important initiative.

V’landys said he believes Australian rugby league is an inclusive sport.

“Let me say this, though, that one thing I’m proud of in rugby league is that we treat everyone the same. We’re all human beings. It doesn’t matter what color you are, your sexual orientation or your race, we are all equal,” V’landys said during Tuesday’s Harvey Norman Women in League Breakfast.

“We will never take a step back to ensure our sport is inclusive but, at the same time, we will not disrespect the freedoms of these players, and they have those freedoms.

“If they don’t want to play, I respect that. They know our inclusion policy well and we’re proud of it. That’s our position at the moment.”

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