Jail threat for NRL stars who tape over Lebanon emblem
In a stunning statement from the Lebanese Rugby League Federation, players covering up their logo as part of planned strike action during Staurday's clash with Fiji have been threatened with prosecution and jail.
The Sunday Telegraph revealed this week plans by Lebanese players to stick tape over the Lebanese Federation logo as they protest against the board of the federation. Players have covered up the logo since heading into camp on Monday.
The move is led by some of the Cedars' highest profile players including Robbie Farah, Josh Mansour, Tim Mannah, Mitchell Moses and Michael Lichaa.
But in a heated retort, the Lebanese Rugby League Federation has hit back and its players and warned them against the planned protest this weekend.
"The LRLF understands from its coaching staff that the playing squad selected for the match against Fiji intends covering up the Cedars emblem," the statement read.
"The LRLF will not tolerate any insult to the iconic, national symbol of the Republic of Lebanon and its people."
The fallout has continued from the 2017 World Cup when players grew frustrated at the Lebanese board for failing to capitalise on the team's success in the tournament.
Players boycotted last year's mid-year Test but fears they would be stripped of their World Cup status will see them return to the field this week.
The board's statement on Wednesday claimed it would take the following actions if players pushed ahead with taping over the emblem:
- 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;
- Any player who conceals the CEDARS badge will be suspended with immediate effect pending the outcomes of any misconduct hearing;
- The LRLF will seek significant monetary fines on any person found guilty of misconduct related to this incident;
- 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.
Players were sent the email last night.
Cedars captain Farah said last week action was needed to continue growing the success of rugby league in Lebanon.
"We are all so proud to represent the Cedars," Farah said.
"The 2017 World Cup was one of the highlights of my career. But as a playing group we can't support what is happening to the game in Lebanon.
"We want the game to grow and prosper and we stand alongside those domestic players in demanding change."
Referral of the protest to the Lebanese public prosecutor's office means players who push forward with the action could be arrested when they set foot on Lebanese soil.
The Cedars face Fiji at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday from 5:40pm.