Rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams has refused to wear a Betfred logo on his Super League kit due Islam’s prohibition on gambling.
The 34-year-old signed a $10million, two-year contract with Canadian team the Toronto Wolfpack in November 2019 who play against English and French teams in the Betfred Super League, which is chiefly sponsored by the betting company.
“As I learn more and develop a better 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 people respect that,” Williams said.
Toronto chairman Bob Hunter told The Telegraph on Wednesday that the club supports his decision.
“I think Betfred will benefit by taking the position that we respect and honour the player’s religious beliefs,’ he told the publication. “In today’s society there are some very sensitive issues but I think the sponsor can say ‘yes, okay, we understand this. He’s a big brand and big name but we get it’.”
In 2017, Williams covered up the Bank of New Zealand logo on his Auckland Blues kit shirt with permission from the New Zealand Rugby Union.
“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,” Williams said at the time.
Williams converted from Christianity to Islam in 2009 and became the first Muslim to play for the All Blacks.
He has been a fixture in the All Blacks squad through his rugby career, winning the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and 2015.