Sea Eagles seven plan to end jersey boycott

Manly’s jersey boycotters have told club management they are prepared to wear a pride jersey next season, as long as they’re consulted in the process.

Josh Aloiai, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Tolu Koula, and Toafofoa Sipley all refused to play this week to avoid wearing a jersey which features a rainbow pattern to celebrate inclusiveness in rugby league.

But their major issue was not necessarily the jersey itself, but the lack of consultation regarding their cultural and religious stance.

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“I think they were somewhat frustrated that it went as far as it did without consultation, and we respect that,” Manly owner Scott Penn told 9News.

“We are all about inclusiveness, so we will continue this theme.”

Penn earlier released a full statement on the saga.

The Sea Eagles will don the pride jersey on Thursday night against the Sydney Roosters, but will do so without seven of its first-grade regulars, who have withdrawn from the match after being blindsided by the release of the jersey, which they claim clashes with their cultural and religious beliefs.

Penn addressed the jersey controversy in a lengthy statement in which he emphasized the importance of inclusiveness.

“The key message from me to our club and supporters, the rugby league community and a wider society is a simple one: The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles represent inclusiveness,” he said.

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“We do not discriminate between an individual’s race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation or anything else that we should be celebrating collectively as an evolved society. We respect all individuals.”These values ​​and beliefs were the motivation behind why we wanted to create a jersey that represented EVERYONE IN LEAGUE. It should have been an acknowledgment that celebrated differences under the banner of inclusiveness. We are all different in many ways, but we are all the same – we are all human beings.”

However, Penn admitted that the release of the jersey had been botched, and said an internal audit of the saga is ongoing at the club.

“Whilst the intention of why we wanted to do this was authentic – and still is – we must learn from how the message was lost in translation through the process of implementation,” he said.

“I accept that our own genuine narrative of why we wanted to celebrate inclusiveness has been lost.

“Our promotion of inclusiveness – and why we were doing it – needed to start more broadly internally – with all staff and players engaged before it was communicated publicly.

“This is something that is being addressed internally – and will be further led by the incoming CEO Tony Mestrov who starts in his role on Monday.

“We have learned lessons from this and we hope others may learn lessons from this also, but we will make no apologies for why we were motivated to do it.”

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Penn revealed that the club will donate a portion of the proceeds from the clash against the Roosters to help with the mental health of members of the LGBTQ+ community, along with a combined $200,000 donation with its sponsor Shaw and Partners to Gotcha4Life, an organization which supports mental health.

MANLY OWNER SCOTT PENN’S FULL STATEMENT

As an owner and Chairman of the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, the key message from me to our club and supporters, the rugby league community and a wider society is a simple one: The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles represent inclusiveness.

We do not discriminate between an individual’s race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation or anything else that we should be celebrating collectively as an evolved society.

We respect all individuals.

These values ​​and beliefs were the motivation behind why we wanted to create a jersey that represented EVERYONE IN LEAGUE.

It should have been an acknowledgment that celebrated differences under the banner of inclusiveness.

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We are all different in many ways, but we are all the same – we are all human beings.

I stand with the club’s management and the inspiration for why we wanted to do this. But whilst the intention of why we wanted to do this was authentic – and still is – we must learn from how the message was lost in translation through the process of implementation.

I accept that our own genuine narrative of why we wanted to celebrate inclusiveness has been lost.

Our promotion of inclusiveness – and why we were doing it – needed to start more broadly internally – with all staff and players engaged before it was communicated publicly.

This is something that is being addressed internally – and will be further led by the incoming Chief Executive Officer Tony Mestrov who starts in his role on Monday.

We have learned lessons from this and we hope others may learn lessons from this also, but we will make no apologies for why we were motivated to do it. Some of it is fair, some is not.

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But I accept that Manly Warringah Sea Eagles now has the job to unite its club, players, supporters and become the leader of inclusiveness that we whole-heartedly desire to be.

As a football team, our Manly side will tonight play the Sydney Roosters for the Gotcha4Life Cup, which is an important part of our club’s engagement with the mental health charity led by a champion of inclusion, Gus Worland.

As reported, a portion of the proceeds from the match will be used to make a difference to the mental health of members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Our fantastic sponsor Shaw and Partners have donated $100,000 to Gotcha4Life as a result of their commitment to supporting Mental Health.

The Owners of the Sea Eagles intend to match their commitment and will also be donating $100,000 to Gotcha4Life to celebrate inclusiveness and the importance of positive mental health.

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