‘Supporters’ flags are welcome’: Catalans dismiss rainbow flag allegations

Leeds: Catalans Dragons have dismissed allegations Castleford fans had rainbow flags confiscated at last Saturday's Super League match in Perpignan.

The French club launched an investigation following complaints by visiting fans that they were ordered to take down their flags, which are a symbol of LGBT pride.

 Israel Folau of Catalans Dragonsand inset, a fan displays a rainbow flag.Credit:Getty/Twitter

The flags were seen as a protest at the presence of Israel Folau – who was sacked by Rugby Australia for posting homophobic messages on social media last year – as he made his Catalans debut.

But the Dragons insist fans are welcome to display flags at their matches and say one fan was asked to take down a flag during Saturday's game only because it was covering an advertising board.

A statement read: "Catalans Dragons are happy to confirm that supporters' flags are welcome in all the stands at Gilbert Brutus Stadium.

"We noted the complaints of certain Castleford supporters but, having reviewed the CCTV footage and numerous photos in the media, we can confirm that supporters were able to display their flags and colours throughout.

"However, it is important that flags and banners do not cover advertising boards.

"Stadium security staff are briefed to ensure that advertising boards are kept clear throughout the game.

"The investigation found that one person was asked to remove a flag because it was covering an advertising board.

"The only banners and flags forbidden in our stadium and other sports stadia would be those which are insulting or inciting violence.

"We can confirm that no such incidents were reported on Saturday during our match against Castleford."

The Rugby Football League is carrying out its own investigation and said it was too early to draw firm conclusions.

A spokesman said: "We thank Catalans Dragons for instigating their own investigation but we will need time to consider all the available evidence before reaching any conclusions."

Meanwhile, the Catalans are considering switching their home game against Toronto in the summer to cash in on the Sonny Bill Williams factor.

The club may move the game, which will see Folau go up against his dual- international rival, to either the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, which has a capacity of 67,394, or the Stade Mayol in Toulon, which holds 18,200.

The Dragons, whose own stadium in Perpignan has a capacity of 11,800, drew a Super League record crowd of 31,555 to the Nou Camp in Barcelona for the visit of Wigan last May.


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