Wallabies full-back Israel Folau has his contract terminated after anti-gay social media comments
Israel Folau sacked by Rugby Australia
Waratahs and Wallabies full-back Israel Folau has been sacked by Rugby Australia following his social media posts last month that said homosexuals were destined for hell unless they repented.
Folau faced a code of conduct hearing at the start of May and was found to have committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct with his social media posts.
The three-person panel have now issued a sanction that his playing contract should be terminated.
The 30-year-old, who has played in 73 Tests for Australia and scored 37 tries, has 72 hours to appeal the decision.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said: “While Rugby Australia accepts the panel’s decision directing termination of Israel Folau’s playing contract for his high-level breach of the Code of Conduct, we want to stress that this outcome is a painful situation for the game.
“Rugby Australia did not choose to be in this situation, but Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue this course of action.
“Representing Australia and all Australians on the rugby field is a privilege. Selection is dependent upon a player’s ability to contribute to the Wallabies, and the game of rugby itself, in a positive and consistent manner both on and off the field. When players sign a contract with the Wallabies, they sign up to the values of the team and the sport.
“Israel is a great rugby player and we are disappointed and saddened by the fact that he will not see out his four-year commitment to the Wallabies and Waratahs.”
Folau said in a statement he is “deeply saddened” by the decision.
“It has been a privilege and an honour to represent Australia and my home state of New South Wales, playing the game I love,” he said. “I am deeply saddened by today’s decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.
“As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression.
“The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s word.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika had already said he would not pick Folau in his World Cup squad following his “disrespectful” comments. He added: “When you play in the gold jersey, we represent everyone in Australia – everyone. Everyone that’s out there supporting us. We don’t pick and choose.”
Castle emphasised a similar message in her statement following the Folau announcement. She said: “This has been an extremely challenging period for rugby and this issue has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team.
“But our clear message to all rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork.
“I’ve communicated directly with the players to make it clear that Rugby Australia fully supports their right to their own beliefs and nothing that has happened changes that. But when we are talking about inclusiveness in our game, we’re talking about respecting differences as well.
“When we say rugby is a game for all, we mean it. People need to feel safe and welcomed in our game regardless of their gender, race, background, religion, or sexuality.”
This case may not be over, however, as it is thought Folau is likely to appeal the sanction in the Supreme Court.
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