Cross-code rugby star Sonny Bill Williams has been granted permission to cover up Betfred’s logo on his Toronto Wolfpack jersey.
The New Zealander recently said he would refuse to wear a jersey with the logo of a gambling company due to his religious beliefs, having converted to Islam in 2009. Following negotiations with Super League officials, Betfred has agreed that Williams can cover its logo for the upcoming season.
New Zealander recently said he would refuse to wear a jersey with the logo of a gambling company
The 34-year-old is set to play for Toronto Wolfpack in the 2020 Super League after signing a two-year contract in November 2019. UK gambling operator Betfred has been a major sponsor for the Super League since 2017.
During the 2019 season, Betfred extended its sponsorship deal in what was announced as the biggest commercial deal in the history of the Super League. Betfred will remain the main sponsor until after the 2021 season.
Refused to wear jersey with logo
Due to his religious beliefs, Williams has refused to wear any clothing that contains the logos of alcohol, banking, or gambling sponsors.
As the Betfred logo was set to appear on his Toronto Wolfpack’s jersey for the upcoming season, he told the club that he would refuse to wear the jersey without covering up the logo.
Commenting on the issue at the time, Bob Hunter, CEO and chairman of Toronto Wolfpack, told media: “We’re in discussions with Super League about this, but Sonny has been very clear in his stance on the matter.”
He spoke about how it was a sensitive issue and that Betfred would likely understand the situation and respect the beliefs of Williams.
World’s richest rugby player
Sonny Bill Williams has undergone numerous transformations during his career. He has played rugby league, rugby union, and even stepped into the ring for seven professional boxing bouts.
Over the course of his rugby union career, Williams won a total of 58 caps for the All Blacks, winning two consecutive World Cups along the way. He had a “conscientious objection” included in his contract with New Zealand Rugby that said he would not wear jerseys featuring logos of certain types of sponsors due to his religious beliefs.
Williams also hit the headlines over his religious stance in 2017 while playing for the Blues, a professional rugby union team based in Auckland. He covered the logo of the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ).
LeBron James of rugby league
While the Super League season has not yet started, the Wolfpack has already been benefiting from its marquee signing. Hunter spoke about how the attention from fans and media alike has been massive since he signed.
Hunter said: “A lot of my friends don’t understand rugby league and are not Wolfpack fans yet say ‘but I heard you signed this really big player, the LeBron James of rugby league’.”
Williams will feature in the first game of the Super League season on February 2
The number of season tickets sold has already increased by around 30%, with sponsorship money also increasing by 35%-40% so far.
Williams will feature in the first game of the Super League season on February 2 when Toronto Wolfpack play the Castleford Tigers.