Sea Eagles legend Ian Roberts, SLAMS Manly star Josh Aloiai for refusing to wear the club’s Pride shirt after Samoan said he didn’t want to ‘endorse’ homosexuality: ‘Sounds very ignorant’
The great manly Ian Roberts criticized Sea Eagles star Josh Aloiai for sounding “very ignorant” after refusing to wear the club’s Pride jersey.
Aloiai was one of seven Manly players who opted to boycott the Round 20 clash against the Sydney Roosters rather than wear the rainbow shirt introduced by the club.
Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu and Tolutau Koula joined the 26-year-old, who is a devout Christian, in boycotting the jersey.
Ian Roberts has criticized Josh Aloiai’s comments on the Pride shirt
Earlier this week, Aloiai finally broke his silence on the saga and revealed that he will never wear a rainbow pride sweater.
‘The short answer is no, I won’t [play in a pride jersey]’ he said in a channel 9 interview.
‘We didn’t commit this year and we won’t do it next year or the year after that.
“You should never put yourself in that situation where your religious or cultural views or beliefs conflict with your job.”
Aloiai was one of seven Manly players to boycott the club’s Pride jersey.
His stance, however, provoked a strong reaction from Roberts, who in 1995 became the first rugby league player to come out as gay and played 100 games for the Sea Eagles.
‘Why don’t you put on your sweater? I still don’t think I’ve heard a reason deep enough for him to say that,” Roberts told the Sydney Morning Herald.
It sounds very ignorant. He says, “We’re accepting of all people. But I just wear a rainbow.”
“He says he is caring and Christian, but acceptance is not for everyone. He is contradictory and he is hypocritical.
Manly’s season was completely derailed after all seven players boycotted the game against the Sydney Roosters in response to the club unveiling a Pride shirt.
The jersey divided Sea Eagles fans, with some criticizing the seven boycotters, while others called for their decision to be respected.
Manly introduced the shirt, called Everyone in the League, in July to celebrate diversity and inclusion in the NRL.
The jersey featured the colors of the rainbow replacing the traditional white piping on the maroon background, making Manly the first NRL club to wear a pride shirt in rugby league’s 134-year history.
But far from being a unifying force, the shirt generated a great deal of controversy, dividing Sea Eagles players and fans and the entire rugby league community.
The fallout derailed Manly’s campaign, with the Sea Eagles losing their last seven games to record their worst finish to an NRL season.
Roberts was the first openly gay rugby league player in 1995 and played 100 games for Manly.
But Roberts also urged the NRL to intervene after Aloiai revealed that he had received death threats for his stance.
“I guess what bothered me most at first was that he and the other kids got death threats,” Roberts said.
“I really hope the club or the NRL will go after this because it is totally unacceptable.
“I would say it’s not unknown to anyone in the queer community, particularly my age. […] Because you’re getting death threats, that’s why we need a round of pride for inclusion and acceptance.