April 23, 2019

Israel Folau sacked over homophobic social media post

16 April 2019, 02:44 | Henrietta Morgan

'I share it with love': Rugby star stands by 'hell awaits' gays remark

Israel Folau watches on during a Waratahs Super Rugby training session at David Phillips Sports Complex

Rugby Australia has indicated it will terminate Folau's contract unless he can cite "compelling mitigating circumstances" for his latest social media post in which he said hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters".

Hillsong founder and pastor Brian Houston has called on Israel Folau to abandon his judgmental attitude and embrace love rather than trying to scare people to side with his religious beliefs.

The 30-year-old Christian shared a graphic on Instagram that stated that "hell awaits" homosexuals and those guilty of other "sins".

Vunipola's Instagram post backing Folau read: "I don't HATE anyone neither do I think I'm flawless".

Folau's employers said his post (below) breached their Professional Players' Code of Conduct.

Folau has 48 hours to accept the sanction or have the matter referred to a code of conduct hearing.

"At its core, this is an issue of the responsibilities an employee owes to their employer and the commitments they make to their employer to abide by their employer's policies and procedures and adhere to their employer's values".

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"It was made clear to Israel in writing and verbally when I met with him a year ago that any social media posts or commentary that in any way were disrespectful to people due to their sexuality would result in disciplinary action".

Rugby Australia had said it would terminate the contract of Folau, the country's best-known and best-paid player, if he could not offer a good reason for a social media post that said gay people would go to "hell" if they did not "repent".

Rugby Australia is expected on Monday to notify Folau he is in breach of his contract, starting the formal disciplinary process which could lead to his sacking.

The Wallabies coach says Folau's comments are too damaging to team culture to warrant another selection.

"Getting out in that disrespectful manner publicly is not what our team's about", Cheika said on Monday.

"When you play in the gold jersey, we're representing everyone in Australia - everyone that's out there supporting us".

"We've had the discussion about it after the last time about his right to believe and our support in that", he said.

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Many of Folau's supporters have suggested that he is being persecuted for his faith - something which the player himself said that all Christians should expect to happen if they hold fast to the truth of the Bible. "If that's not to continue on playing, so be it", Folau said.

"Anyone who knows me, knows I live with kindness and love towards ALL people".

"I can see that my recent post has hurt people".

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said "I'm sure there's stuff going on in his head" but will pick him for Saturday's European semi-final against Munster at Allianz Park. "I share it with love".

Folau, who broke the record for Super Rugby tries earlier this month, also tweeted a screenshot of the news that Tasmania last week became the first Australian jurisdiction to make gender optional on birth certificates. "But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first", he told the publication.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning herald, Folau was unrepentant about his social media posts and said he would leave the outcome in God's hands.

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