Sonny Bill Williams Issues Statement To Explain Sponsor Cover Up
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Sonny Bill Williams has spoken for the first time following his hugely topical sponsor cover up last weekend.
The New Zealand centre made his debut for the Auckland Blues during Saturday’s loss to the Highlanders with the Bank of New Zealand logo taped over on his collar.
New Zealand Rugby subsequently revealed Williams, a devout Muslim, has a “conscientious objection” clause relating to companies linked to products such as alcohol and tobacco.
Williams has now released the following statement:
“I want to be clear that this is nothing personal against the BNZ or Investec,” Williams said.
“My objection to wearing clothing that markets banks, alcohol and gambling companies is central to my religious beliefs and it is important to me to have been granted this exemption.
“As I learn more, and develop a deeper understanding of my faith I am no longer comfortable doing things I used to do. So while a logo on a jersey might seem like a small thing to some people, it is important to me that I do the right thing with regards to my faith and hope that people respect that.
“I know I’m not perfect. Every day I work hard to become a better person. I want to thank the Blues and New Zealand Rugby for working with me through this matter over the last couple of days and respecting my religion and accommodating my request.”
Williams’ request was granted by NZR on the basis that in fell under the category of ‘genuine family, ethical or religious grounds’.
“Sonny holds clear religious beliefs in relation to this matter and we respect those,” NZR general manager Neil Sorensen said.
“Conscientious objections need to be genuine, and we believe this is. We want to thank our Super Rugby sponsor Investec for their understanding of this.”
Williams is expected to be given a jersey without the BNZ and Investec logos in time for the Blues’ next match against the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Saturday. The dispensation will also apply to the Blues’ training kit, with Williams yesterday wearing a borrowed Blues’ sweatshirt which covered said sponsors.