Lebanon threatens Fiji match boycott
June 19, 2019 4:53 pm
Lebanon captain Robbie Farah
Lebanon captain Robbie Farah said the Cedars would “seriously consider” withdrawing from Saturday’s Test against Fiji.
This is in response to a threat from the Lebanon Rugby League Federation that it would come down heavy on players covering the team logo.
Farah claimed the players were united in their stance and remained hopeful “we will be heard and there will be change”.
The Cedars are scheduled to take on Fiji at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday but the game could be abandoned if the players don’t get the promises for change they’re seeking.
“We didn’t want to get our hands forced into this action but we thought that was the only way we’d be heard,” Farah said on Wednesday.
“As a playing group, we’re united in demanding some change. We’ve been pushing for change in the background but our requests have gone unnoticed.
“They’re not listening to us and not respecting what we’re asking for, and we’re not asking for much.”
The LRLF warned players and coaches planning to cover the team logo that “it is a criminal offence to denigrate the national emblem of the Republic of Lebanon”.
In a statement released on Wednesday on its website, the LRLF said any player or official covering the logo would face misconduct charges and be “be suspended with immediate effect pending the outcomes of any misconduct hearing”.
The threat of “significant monetary fines” was also included in the statement.
The response comes following a protest by Lebanon players over what they see as a failure to capitalise on the success of the team in the 2017 World Cup.
They’re not listening to us and not respecting what we’re asking for says Robbie Farah.
The LRLF said its 2018-19 calendar was a success with 17 teams competing in adult and 13-a-side junior competitions.
“The LRLF will seek significant monetary fines on any person found guilty of misconduct related to this incident,” according to the statement.
“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.”
Farah feared Lebanon would lose their spot at the World Cup if the country doesn’t establish a domestic competition.
“There is no domestic club competition in Lebanon and one of the requirements to be eligible in the international federation is that you must have a domestic competition, and if we don’t get one up and running in the near future we’re going to lose our spot in the World Cup,” he said.
“People over there know what’s happened the last couple of years and they’re just worried about their own self-interests.
“We feel we’re taking the necessary action to ensure the long-term future of Lebanon Rugby League. Sometimes you have to create a stir for people to listen to you.”