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How the Roosters changed uniform to fit Sonny Bill Williams’ religion as Manly pride drama continues

How the Roosters changed their uniform because it went against Sonny Bill Williams’ religious beliefs – as Sea Eagles refuse to back down over pride jersey

  • Cross-code superstar Sonny Bill Williams spoke about his religious beliefs
  • Wouldn’t wear jerseys with gambling links – including rooster sponsor Unibet
  • In 2020, Unibet accepted Williams’ stance, which he also maintained in rugby
  • Comes when Sea Eagles have reacted miserably to their pride jersey
  • Fallout has seen seven Manly stars pull out of main clash with Roosters

As the Sea Eagles continue to take cover after their diabolical treatment of the club’s inaugural rainbow pride, their rivals the Sydney Roosters managed to accommodate a footballer’s religious beliefs in 2020.

Cross-code superstar Sonny Bill Williams, a devout Muslim man, at the time refused to wear a Tricolors play strip featuring one of the club’s sponsors, Unibet.

The bookmaker company respected Williams’ wishes, taking jerseys with the logos of gambling companies, alcohol companies and banks off the table because of his beliefs.

Williams also negotiated the outcome of his playing streaks during his time in the English Super League with Toronto, as well as his successful stints in rugby union, where he was based in New Zealand, France and Japan.

Nearly two years ago, the Roosters, cleverly run by billionaire Nick Politis, instead offered a small company the “once in a lifetime opportunity” to promote themselves on the back of Williams’ jersey as a Unibet replacement.

Manly's inaugural pride jersey, modeled by Sean Keppie, Kieran Foran and Reuben Garrick

Manly’s inaugural pride jersey, modeled by Sean Keppie, Kieran Foran and Reuben Garrick

Seven players will not play for Manly on Thursday due to collective religious and cultural beliefs - it leaves coach Des Hasler (pictured) scrambling to name a team for the clash against the Roosters

Seven players will not play for Manly on Thursday due to collective religious and cultural beliefs – it leaves coach Des Hasler (pictured) scrambling to name a team for the clash against the Roosters

It comes as Sea Eagles stars Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolu Koula and Toafofoa Sipley told Manly officials during emergency calls Monday night that they were against wearing the rainbow jersey because of collective religious and cultural beliefs.

All seven will not play against the Roosters, Hasler confirmed on Tuesday.

Despite the drama, Manly owner Scott Penn said the club wants to be known as a professional sports organization where everyone is welcome.

He also stated that the Sea Eagles remain committed to wearing their pride jersey on Thursday at 4 Pines Park against the Roosters.

It has rainbow embellishments on the collar and sleeves and in the usual place for white trim on the front of the jersey.

“It was all a jersey for inclusivity and diversity,” Penn told the Sydney Morning Herald.

In 2020, the Sydney Roosters had Sonny Bill Williams play with his jersey without the Unibet logo due to his religious beliefs

In 2020, the Sydney Roosters had Sonny Bill Williams play with his jersey without the Unibet logo due to his religious beliefs

Scott Penn, owner of Manly Sea Eagles, said the club wants to be known as a professional sports organization where everyone is welcome

Scott Penn, owner of Manly Sea Eagles, said the club wants to be known as a professional sports organization where everyone is welcome

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'landys thinks Manly has handled the case badly

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys thinks Manly has handled the case badly

“It was never just about pride. It was about saying we want everyone in the game and making them feel like they can participate.”

Penn added that the seven players who received intense criticism “have been put in a difficult position” and that the club “will not force them them to play.’

Australian Rugby League committee chairman Peter V’landys admitted Manly handled the matter poorly.

“It should have happened together,” he told 2GB.

“We as a game respect everyone. It doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is, what your faith in marriage is, what your race is, what your color is, we respect you as a human being.

“The game’s policy has been that for years and it won’t change.”

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