Catalans Dragons say “supporters were able to display their flags and colours” during Israel Folau’s debut on Saturday, despite two Castleford fans saying they were told to remove their rainbow flags.
A small group of Tigers supporters had brought rainbow flags into the ground for the match at the Stade Gilbert Brutus in a show of support for the LGBT+ community but were told to remove them before kick-off, for health and safety reasons and due to their displays blocking the advertising boards.
However, during the match, mobile phone footage showed two security guards speaking with Tigers fans, and one supporter Alison Grey told Sky Sports News that she was informed by security that it was “against the views of the club” for the group to have the flags.
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The Super League club said in a statement: “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 Super League meanwhile has said: “Catalans Dragons has assured Super League that a thorough investigation has been carried out following an incident which took place at the Stade Gilbert Brutus on Saturday evening.
“Footage shows that the flag was not taken off the supporter. Rainbow flags are welcome at all Super League grounds, subject to stadium regulations”;
“However, when flags or banners of any kind are draped over advertising hoardings, club security staff can ask for them to be removed on health and safety grounds. There is clearly a commercial aspect to consider regarding club sponsors as well.”
The Rugby Football League added: “We thank Catalans Dragons for their instigating their own investigation, but we will need time to consider all the available evidence before reaching any conclusions.”
Folau scored a sixth-minute try on his debut for the Perpignan club as Dragons won 36-18 against Castleford.
The Australian’s arrival at the Stade Gilbert Brutus has been heavily criticised by fellow Super League clubs, with talks of boycott and protest.
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