Rugby league fans, past NRL players and title-winning coaches have all spoken out against Ryan Stig following the recently axed Newcastle Knights player’s now-infamous online rant against homosexuality, however not one current player has stood up to publicly condemn the injured halfback’s views.
A saddened longtime fan of the Newcastle Knights has meanwhile told the Star Observer of his anger and upset at the response of both the club and the NRL in the wake of the controversy and has called on rugby league officials to follow through with their own anti-vilification codes.
Currently a prison guard at a Northern Territory jail, Knights fan Craig James says until 18 months ago he had lived his entire life in NSW and was proud to call himself a lifetime supporter of the club.
“I am disgusted in Stig’s comments and the fact they may have gone unchecked, if not for the Star Observer story last week,” he said.
“I have been a Knights supporter since their inception into the competition, however will not be a supporter of theirs going forward if they support a bigot such as Stig. Religion does not mask or reason anyone’s homophobia. It is illegal to discriminate, or make comments about anyone that could be seen to persecute that person or group of people.”
Premiership-winning Newcastle star, Matthew Johns, has labelled Stig’s opinions as “prehistoric” while an angry-sounding Phil Gould – the successful former Panthers, Roosters and NSW State of Origin coach – has demanded to know what exactly motivated Stig to make the comments in the first place.
“I just wonder why he would want to say it? Who is he and what kind of authority is he to say it?” Gould told Triple M.
Stig was at the centre of a national storm last week after bombarding his social media accounts – including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – with a long-winded diatribe against marriage equality and gay people where he compared homosexuality to alcoholism and suggested being gay was “demonic” and like a “spiritual disease”.
“One thing we are hearing more Is [sic] that homosexuality can be genetically traced, well if that is the case there is as much proof of that for alcoholism yet their [sic] are no parades for alcoholic pride. I for one won’t succumb to the politically correct charade of it being a healthy lifestyle choice rather that this stance which stenches of deception,” Stig wrote on October 23 as part of his post.
The 23-year-old, who has been out of action for close to two years with an eye injury, made the comments only a week before his contract with the Knights expired. On November 1, the club confirmed that Stig will not be re-signed, citing his “ongoing injury issues”. Last week, the Knights told the Star Observer that it did not in any way support Stig’s comments but refused to say whether disciplinary action was pending.
“These comments are the personal opinion of Stig, based on his own beliefs and do not reflect those of the Club,” a spokesperson for the club said.
The NRL also denied Stig’s comments could be construed as vilification despite the sport’s own Code of Conduct stating players must not “speak or otherwise act in a manner which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, threaten, disparage or vilify another person on the basis of that person’s race, religion, colour, descent, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, sexuality, marital status, status as a parent, disability or HIV/AIDS status”.
Johns told Triple M Radio that he feared Stig may have fallen in with the wrong crowd.
“I find Ryan’s opinions prehistoric. I find some of the things he is saying there fairly outrageous. I don’t agree with anything he is saying there but it’s his opinions,” Johns said.
“The Ryan Stig I’ve met they don’t sound like his words. I don’t know if someone is feeding him that information and he is regurgitating it. It’s a strange one without a shadow of doubt.
“From what I believe he has very strong Christian beliefs and he is entitled to those beliefs. But part of being Christian is accepting others and other people’s lifestyles.”
An unrepentant Stig has told local Newcastle radio station, KLFM, that he stands by his views.
“I for one won’t bow to the politically correct notion that it’s ok because I love people too much and I want them to be free from these hurts they walk around,” he said.