Waratahs and Wallabies full-back Israel Folau has sparked controversy with his recent social media posts
Rugby Australia set to sack Israel Folau for latest anti-gay comments
Israel Folau faces the sack following his latest anti-gay comments on social media.
Rugby Australia have been trying to contact the full-back over the past 24 hours since his controversial posts, but with no response they have said: “In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.”
Waratahs and Wallabies star Folau caused controversy with two separate posts on Instagram and Twitter.
His Instagram post said that “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators” were destined for hell unless they repented:
On Twitter he criticised the decision by the state of Tasmania to make listing a baby’s gender on birth certificates optional:
In a statement shortly after these went online, Rugby Australia described the Instagram post as “unacceptable” and added: “It does not represent the values of the sport and is disrespectful to members of the rugby community.”
Qantas, the Wallabies’ main sponsors, also spoke out, stating: “These comments are really disappointing and clearly don’t reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support.”
Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union have repeatedly tried to contact Folau since the posts but “he has failed to communicate directly with either organisation”. The statement goes on to say: “Whilst Israel is entitled to his religious beliefs, the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport. We want to make it clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.
“Israel has failed to understand that the expectation of him as a Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs employee is that he cannot share material on social media that condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality.
“As a code we have made it clear to Israel formally and repeatedly that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action.
“In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.”
Many rugby players have come out to criticise Folau. Japan captain Michael Leitch has released a video describing Folau as a “bully” and calling for an apology:
Harlequins prop Joe Marler responded to the comments with a photo of two men kissing:
David Flatman, Gareth Thomas and Carl Fearns are also among those to have responded to the post:
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has also criticised Folau after being asked about his posts in a press conference. She said: “Obviously at a personal level I clearly don’t agree with what he said, and I’m very mindful of the fact that he is for many a role model. He’s a person in a position of influence and I think that with that comes responsibility.
“I’m particularly mindful of young people who are members of our rainbow community, there is a lot of vulnerability there. I totally disagree with what he’s said and the way he’s using his platform.”
It is a year since Folau caused similar fury with homophobic comments on social media. On that occasion he met with Rugby Australia and was reminded to “use social media in a respectful way”, but there were no formal sanctions and he recently signed a new four-year deal with the Waratahs and Wallabies.
This time Rugby Australia have responded swiftly and decisively.
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