On this day in 2019: Australia end Israel Folau’s deal over discriminatory posts

By Sports Desk April 11, 2024

Rugby Australia and New South Wales Waratahs terminated Israel Folau’s contract over discriminatory social media posts on this day in 2019.

The then 30-year-old was warned about his behaviour the year before, but avoided any disciplinary action, for making homophobic comments on his social media channels.

Folau was reminded of his social media obligations by RA chief executive Raelene Castle and there were also threats from sponsors of the Australian national team that they would withdraw support following his posts.

An RA statement read: “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.

“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.”

In this latest incident, a message published on Folau’s Instagram account read that “hell awaits” for “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators”.

Folau said on Instagram: “Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”

Folau featured in 73 Tests for Australia and was signed with the Waratahs for another three years in a deal that ran till 2022, but had his contract terminated early.

The ex-Melbourne Storm, Brisbane Broncos and Catalans Dragons full-back now plays for Japan Rugby League One club Urayasu D-Rocks and represents Tonga at international level under a new rule that allows him to represent the country of his parents’ birth.

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