Abbie Chatfield calls for ‘homophobic’ Manly Sea Eagles players to be ‘stood down’ over jersey saga


Abbie Chatfield has called for the Manly Sea Eagles players who refuse to wear the club’s new gay pride jersey to be ‘stood down’.

Seven players have been removed from Thursday’s crunch match against the Sydney Roosters due to the rainbow-striped jersey, saying wearing it would be against their ‘religious beliefs’.

Chatfield, 27, who identifies as queer, slammed these players on her Hot Nights with Abbie Chatfield radio show on Monday night, branding them ‘weak’ and ‘fragile’. 

Outspoken radio host Abbie Chatfield, 27, (pictured) has called for Manly Sea Eagles players who refuse to wear the club’s new gay-pride jersey to be ‘stood down’

‘It’s just embarrassing for them. Like, sorry that you are so weak and so fragile that you can’t handle having a strip of rainbow across your chest and across your neck to support communities who aren’t included most of the time,’ she said. 

‘Sorry that you have to go out of your way to wear a normal jersey that you’re being provided that has a bit of rainbow on it, just so you can include the LGBTQIA+ community,’ she added sarcastically. 

Chatfield went on to say that players who refuse to wear the pride jersey should be fired from the team completely, declaring: ‘Stand them down!’ 

Seven players have been removed from Thursday’s crunch match against the Sydney Roosters due to the rainbow-striped jersey, saying wearing it would be against their ‘religious beliefs’. Manly wingers Jason Saab (left) and Christian Tuipulotu (right) are among the players who oppose wearing the jersey on religious grounds 

'It's just embarrassing for them. Like, sorry that you are so weak and so fragile that you can't handle having a strip of rainbow across your chest and across your neck to support communities who aren't included most of the time,' Chatfield said

‘It’s just embarrassing for them. Like, sorry that you are so weak and so fragile that you can’t handle having a strip of rainbow across your chest and across your neck to support communities who aren’t included most of the time,’ Chatfield said 

‘Basically if you’re a Sea Eagles player isn’t going to play because of a little rainbow on your shirt, you’re embarrassing and you’re weak,’ she raged. 

The Sea Eagles unveiled the jumper, called Everyone in League, on Monday to promote inclusivity of LGBT+ people in the NRL.

However, star players Josh Aloiai, Jason Saab, Christian Tuipulotu, Josh Schuster, Haumole Olakau’atu, Tolutau Koula and Toafofoa Sipley are refusing to run out wearing the ‘inclusive’ jersey on religious grounds.

Chatfield went on to say that players who refuse to wear the pride jersey should be fired from the team completely, declaring: 'Stand them down!'

Chatfield went on to say that players who refuse to wear the pride jersey should be fired from the team completely, declaring: ‘Stand them down!’ 

The Sea Eagles unveiled the jumper (pictured), called Everyone in League, on Monday to promote inclusivity of LGBT + people in the NRL

The Sea Eagles unveiled the jumper (pictured), called Everyone in League, on Monday to promote inclusivity of LGBT + people in the NRL 

But 7News reported on Tuesday that three of the seven players were reconsidering their position.

‘Of the seven players who are refusing to wear the jersey, at least three now have had a bit of a change of heart and are considering wearing the pride jersey for this upcoming round,’ reporter Michelle Bishop told Sunrise.

The players had an emergency meeting with club officials on Monday night to try to reach a compromise, but outright refused to wear the strip, meaning the club will need to promote seven reserve-grade players to make up numbers.

Manly players Sean Keppie (left), Kieran Foran (middle) and Reuben Garrick posed with the club's Everyone in League jersey, which was unveiled on Monday

Manly players Sean Keppie (left), Kieran Foran (middle) and Reuben Garrick posed with the club’s Everyone in League jersey, which was unveiled on Monday

Club legend Ian Roberts, who in 1995 was the first-ever rugby league player to come out as gay, said the embarrassing situation will be felt most by the area’s LGBTQI+ community.

‘I try to see it from all perspectives but this breaks my heart,’ Roberts told the Daily Telegraph.

‘It’s sad and uncomfortable. As an older gay man, this isn’t unfamiliar. I did wonder whether there would be any religious push back. That’s why I think the NRL have never had a Pride round.

Club legend Ian Roberts, who in 1995 was the first-ever rugby league player to come out as gay, said the embarrassing situation will be felt most by the area's LGBTQI+ community

Club legend Ian Roberts, who in 1995 was the first-ever rugby league player to come out as gay, said the embarrassing situation will be felt most by the area’s LGBTQI+ community

‘I can promise you every young kid on the northern beaches who is dealing with their sexuality would have heard about this.’

Manly were preparing to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday in an attempt to try and resolve the ugly rift, which has left them in a precarious position ahead of the Round 20 clash at Brookvale Oval, also known as 4 Pines Park.

But with a media storm brewing players and officials brought the meeting forward to Monday night.

The Sea Eagles wore a vintage kit on Friday in their loss against St George Illawarra

The Sea Eagles wore a vintage kit on Friday in their loss against St George Illawarra

The 90-minute sit down ended with coach Des Hasler telling the players he understood they were put in a difficult position and that he supported their decision not to play.

The jumper at the centre of the dispute features rainbow colours replacing the traditional white piping on the maroon background, making Manly the first NRL club to wear a pride jersey in rugby league’s 134-year history. 

It was understood Monday night’s meeting floated the idea of the players who objected to the new design be allowed to wear the standard jersey instead, but NRL regulations stipulate all players must be wearing the same playing strip. 

Manly are in a precarious position ahead of the Round 20 clash at Brookvale Oval, also known as 4 Pines Park (pictured)

Manly are in a precarious position ahead of the Round 20 clash at Brookvale Oval, also known as 4 Pines Park (pictured)

Sea Eagles star Kieran Foran, Sean Keppie and Reuben Garrick posed with the new jumper, which received the backing Roberts.

‘LGBTIQA people have always been a part of sport but haven’t always been allowed the visibility,’ Roberts said.

‘I have been trying to get the NRL to have a pride round for the past three years and it still hasn’t got the traction it deserves. It saddens me because they think having a float at the Mardi Gras is enough and it’s not.’

At this stage the club has no intention of scrapping the jersey – even as the Sea Eagles are fighting it out for a place in the finals. 

Manly’s interim chief executive Gary Wolman said the club was proud of the initiative and of the message it sent to the community. 

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler (pictured) must name a 22-man squad for the game by Tuesday afternoon

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler (pictured) must name a 22-man squad for the game by Tuesday afternoon

‘The Sea Eagles have such a rich and diverse history in rugby league and in the community,’ he said at the unveiling of the jersey.

‘To be able to bring this concept to life with Dynasty sport is a fantastic achievement and we are pleased to be able to share such an important message that means so much to many people in the community.’

The feel-good factor following the announcement, however, has long dissipated with reports circulating there was little consultation with the players.

Ian Roberts, pictured in 1995 playing for the Manly Sea Eagles, was regarded as one of the toughest forwards of his era

Ian Roberts, pictured in 1995 playing for the Manly Sea Eagles, was regarded as one of the toughest forwards of his era

The Sea Eagles wore a retro kit for their loss against St George Illawarra on Friday, but it is understood the NRL will not allow players who oppose the rainbow jersey to wear an alternative jumper. 

Thursday night’s clash could be pivotal for both teams’ finals hopes, with the ninth-placed Sea Eagles trailing the eighth-placed Roosters just on point differential. 

Manly must name a 22-man squad for the game by Tuesday afternoon. 

Former Wallabies star Israel Folau famously had his Australia contract torn up in 2019 after he posted a meme on social media which said ‘hell’ awaits homosexuals and other groups he considered as ‘sinners’.

An evangelical Christian, Folau returned to rugby league in France in 2020 and tried to revive his career in the sport in Australia but was blocked by local officials. 

The 33-year-old returned to Test rugby last month, when Tonga took on Fiji in the Pacific Nations Cup. 

Israel Folau was exiled by Australia three years ago following his homophobic remarks

Israel Folau was exiled by Australia three years ago following his homophobic remarks

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