News · Sharia in NZ

Sharia creeps into NZ’s national sport.

Quran 2:225. God does not impose blame upon you for what is unintentional in your oaths…
Quran 3:28. Let not believers take disbelievers as allies
Does SBW’s religious stance sideline him from Wellington’s Westpac Stadium?

Does SBW’s religious stance sideline him from Wellington’s Westpac Stadium?

onny Bill Williams’ bank logo boycott could set a dangerous precedent for negotiating sports sponsorship agreements, an expert says.

The Muslim All Black covered up a shirt logo for the bank during his first game for the Auckland Super Rugby franchise, citing a “conscientious objection” to banks charging interest.

Massey University sports management senior lecturer Trish Bradbury said his decision could be seen as “opening a can of worms” for future sponsorship deals.

Sonny Bill Williams with sticking plaster over BNZ logos on the collar of his Blues shirt. As a Muslim, he objects to ...

DIANNE MANSON/GETTY IMAGES

Sonny Bill Williams with sticking plaster over BNZ logos on the collar of his Blues shirt. As a Muslim, he objects to banks charging or paying interest.

“One would think, purely from the sponsorship [standpoint], that if they’re not getting exposure through their logos, and logos are being covered up … the bank is not getting the whole return on the dollar that they’ve put in,” Bradbury said.

“It’s probably getting noticed a bit more because it was SBW and, if it was any other athlete, I think they probably would’ve gotten their fingers rapped – they might’ve been fined.”

Williams, second from left, playing in the New Zealand sevens side at Westpac Stadium last year. His BNZ protest has ...

GETTY IMAGES

Williams, second from left, playing in the New Zealand sevens side at Westpac Stadium last year. His BNZ protest has raised the possibility that he might object to playing under the Westpac banner.

It is understood a conscientious objection clause is common in New Zealand Rugby contracts, but neither the BNZ nor the Blues knew about the nature of Williams’ objections, which also excuse him from promotional work for sponsors in the alcohol, tobacco and gambling sectors.

His BNZ protest raised the possibility that he might object to playing at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium on similar grounds.

On Monday, a New Zealand Rugby spokesman was unable to say whether Williams’ religious beliefs would preclude him appearing from under the bank’s banner, but said “discussions were ongoing”.

Westpac Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said Williams had played at the Wellington ground on several occasions, ...

MONIQUE FORD/ Fairfax NZ

Westpac Stadium chief executive Shane Harmon said Williams had played at the Wellington ground on several occasions, despite the naming rights sponsor being a bank.

However, Westpac Stadium boss Shane Harmon was not concerned.

“He’s played many times here before,” he said. “It’s just not something we’ve contemplated.”

Harmon said teams and players would need to be transparent about the possibility of such boycotts during sponsorship negotiations in the future.

Massey University public relations expert Chris Galloway said he wouldn't be surprised if BNZ was "frustrated" by ...

SUPPLIED

Massey University public relations expert Chris Galloway said he wouldn’t be surprised if BNZ was “frustrated” by Williams’ sponsor snub.

“I think the important thing for teams will be being upfront with sponsors on any restrictions that they may have with individual players.”

Williams, 31, told his 626,000 Twitter followers that he planned to address the issue in the coming days:

Massey University public relations expert Chris Galloway believed that, while Williams had “sincere reasons” for his boycott, BNZ could rightly feel aggrieved if it was not made aware of his objections before Saturday’s game.

“Although the bank has publicly taken a very reasonable position, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were somewhat frustrated that there wasn’t a chance to dialogue with him before he took this action.

“It’s not intended as a swipe at Sonny Bill, it’s a general comment that, if you have some objections to a particular sponsor, it is [best] to make them known so you can have those discussions.”

Williams converted to Islam in 2008, in doing so becoming the first Muslim to play rugby for New Zealand.

His latest stance has the approval of Federation of Islamic Associations president Hazim Arafeh.

“Interest is banned in Islam. We’re not supposed to take it or give it or deal with it,” he said.

“Good practising Muslims are not supposed to draw any interest on money, whatsoever.”

While Arafeh supported Williams’ stance, he encouraged him to publicly explain his reasoning.

“It is good for Muslims, but I think he needs to answer for himself why he has done what he has done.”

 

This is not the first time his sponsorship makes the news: Sonny Bill Williams’ BMW sponsorship reviewed over links to controversial Muslim clerics

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