In the face of global outrage, Rugby Australia has fired star player Israel Folau for posting another homophobic post on social media.
In a statement, Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Rugby Union said they’d made repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact Israel and his representatives in connection with the post.
“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,” said the organisations. “We want to make it clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.”
They continued: “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.”
The organisations added that “In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.”
International Gay Rugby (IGR), the global organisation for the world’s gay and inclusive rugby clubs, welcomed the move.
“The decision by Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union, today upholds rugby’s core values of respect and sportsmanship,” commented IGR Chair, Ben Owen.
“When someone like Folau makes statements like this, it sends a message that members of the LGBT community are less-than and it can have irreparable harm. On behalf of our gay and inclusive rugby community, we hope the decision made today sends a clear message to the world, that any kind of discrimination has no place in our sport,” said Owen.
On Wednesday, Folau shared an image on Instagram that listed groups of people he believes are set for eternal damnation. “Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators – Hell awaits you,” it states.
The devout Christian wrote alongside the image: “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 previously sparked a firestorm in April 2018, when he posted that, according to “God’s plan”, gay people faced hell, “unless they repent their sins and turn to God.”