Christian Australian rugby star, Israel Folau has been sacked by Rugby Australia over homophobic social media posts.
The 30-year-old Wallabies and Waratahs player had previously been found to have committed a ‘high-level breach’ of the code of conduct over the posts he made in April.
Folau, a devout Christian said on his Instagram and Twitter accounts in April 2019 that hell awaits ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters.’
The full-back had previously been warned over making homophobic comments on social media in 2018, but did not face disciplinary action at the time.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle told a press conference:
‘We are here to announce that Wallabies and Waratahs player Israel Folau has today been issued a sanction directing termination of his playing contract for his high-level breach of the professional players’ code of conduct.
‘The three-member panel of John West, QC; chair, Kate Eastman and John Boultbee, provided its final written decision today in relation to the code of conduct hearing over Folau’s social media post on April 10, 2019.
‘While Rugby Australia accepts the panel’s decision directing termination of Israel Folau’s 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.
‘RA supports (players’) rights to their own beliefs and nothing changes from that. But when we talk about inclusiveness we mean that we respect our differences as well.’
‘Rugby Australia did not choose to be in the situation, but Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue the course of action resulting in today’s outcome.
‘This has been an extremely challenging period for rugby. This issue has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team.
‘But our clear message for all rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect, and teamwork.’
It was also reported that Folau, who has already lost one sponsorship deal over the issue, has 72 hours to appeal the ruling.