Lebanese players have been threatened by the Lebanese Rugby League Federation with jail time in their native land in a direct response to players protesting the treatment of the domestic competition and have been covering the team logo in media opportunities.
The players plan on doing the same in their match against Fiji this weekend with veteran Robbie Farah admitting the team may withdraw from the match completely after the LRLF statement.
Read the full LRLF statement below:
In response to an article in The Daily Telegraph, dated 15 June 2019 by Michael Carayannis, the LRLF has issued the following statement:
“The LRLF understands from its coaching staff that the playing squad selected for the match against Fiji intends covering up the CEDARS emblem. The LRLF will not tolerate any insult to the iconic, national symbol of the Republic of Lebanon and its people.
“Consequently, on Tuesday, 18 June, the board decided upon the following resolutions:
1. Any player who conceals the CEDARS badge – which is the emblem the federation selected to be worn by the representative of al watan, the nation – will face misconduct charges.
2. Any player who conceals the CEDARS badge will be suspended with immediate effect pending the outcomes of any misconduct hearing.
3. The LRLF will seek significant monetary fines on any person found guilty of misconduct related to this incident.
4. The Lebanese public prosecutor’s office has been made aware of the incident and will launch an investigation in coordination with the LRLF. It is a criminal offence to denigrate the national emblem of the Republic of Lebanon .
“The LRLF makes the following observations:
1. The LRLF opted for discretion in order to resolve grievances among the Lebanese rugby league family and stressed that such issues should be resolved internally without creating unnecessary and harmful reactions that could damage the game.
2. The LRLF is the legal representative of the Republic of Lebanon. Its board is elected according to Lebanese sports law.
3. Selected national team players are representative of the country, through the federation.
4. The suggestion in The Daily Telegraph article, and made by Robbie Farah in the NRL 360 programme on 18 June, that Lebanon’s world cup place was in jeopardy has no basis in truth.
5. The LRLF 2018-19 calendar was a fruitful one with 17 teams participating in adult and junior 13-a-side competition. The club championship was suspended while clubs adjusted to the new regulations adopted last year with the intention of raising standards. Three of the five clubs are now compliant, bringing the number of operational teams in Lebanon to 20. www.lebanonrl.com & https://twitter.com/lebanonrl
6. The Board is disappointed that The Daily Telegraph did not demonstrate basic journalistic integrity by seeking a balanced view or attempting to substantiate claims in the article.”