One of the players at the centre of the Manly Sea Eagles jersey saga has revealed he received death threats when he refused to wear the gay Pride uniform.
Josh Aloiai, who spoke to journalists for the first time this week about his role in the jumper fiasco, insisted he would refuse to wear a similar jersey again next season.
“(We received) death threats, my family got threats, I got threats about my son,” he said.
“You should never be put in a situation where your religious views or cultural views and beliefs conflict with your job.”
Aloiai was one of seven Manly players who preferred to sit out the club’s crucial game against the Sydney Roosters earlier this year rather than wear a rainbow-themed jersey.
The Manly Seven’s refusal to play became one of the biggest sports stories of the year.
Asked whether his stance was disrespectful to homosexuals, Aloiai said: “We still have nothing but respect for people that choose to live that way of life.
“We personally don’t want to live that way or endorse it but, at the same time, we quietly took our stance and didn’t say anything hateful or hurtful.
“Instead we were the ones that were called everything under the sun.”
Aloiai, a devout Christian, insisted that “a difference of opinion does not mean a difference of respect”.
He said his lesbian sister understood and supported his decision.
“Me and her (have a tight relationship) and she knows that I love her to bits,” he said.
“Throughout all this happening, we did have a chat and she totally understood where I was coming from.
“She rang me up and was like: ‘How are you going? You all right? It’s so crazy the way the media has blown this out of proportion.’”
Aloiai did not hold back when asked about commentator and former player Corey Parker’s claim that the Christian players were hypocrites because they gladly played in jumpers that advertised gambling and alcohol.
Aloaia said the Bible warned about drunkenness and about gambling but nowhere did it prohibit them.
“He’s an idiot,” Aloaia said.