By ABC. This story appears on Radio New Zealand news website.
Rugby Australia has announced it intends to terminate Israel Folau’s contract following his latest online comments that homosexuals and other “sinners” will go to hell.
Wallabies international Folau, one of Australia’s top players and most marketable athletes, wrote on Instagram that gays would be condemned to “hell” if they failed to “repent”.
New South Wales Waratahs player Folau, an evangelical Christian, made similar comments last April.
Rugby Australia and New South Wales Rugby Union said they had made attempts to contact Folau “both directly and via his representatives” since last night, but the star had failed to communicate directly with either organisation.
“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,” a Rugby Australia statement read.
“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.”
It said rugby is a sport that continuously works to unite people, and they wanted everyone to feel safe in the game.
“And welcome in our game, and no vilification based on race, gender, religion or sexuality is acceptable and no language that isolates, divides or insults people based on any of those factors can be tolerated.
“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.”
The sport’s governing body said in a statement on Wednesday the content within the post was unacceptable.
“It does not represent the values of the sport and is disrespectful to members of the rugby community.
“The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit has been engaged on the matter tonight.”
Qantas, a major sponsor of Rugby Australia, has labelled the comments disappointing.
Earlier, it said it was awaiting the results of Rugby Australia’s investigation but the comments didn’t reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that the airline supports.
Folau was contracted to Rugby Australia and the Waratahs through to the end of the 2022 season.