Israel Folau has been served with a breach notice by the Australian Rugby Union after he said that “hell awaits” gay people on social media last week.
Folau can either accept the sanction—which would result in the termination of his employment—or he can have it referred to a code of conduct hearing.
He must respond to the decision within 48 hours and let the team know if he wants the matter taken further, they said in a statement on Monday (April 15).
Rugby union says Israel Folau was warned ‘formally and repeatedly’ over anti-gay comments
Chief Executive of Rugby Australia, Raelene Castle said: “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.
“Following the events of last year, Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations.
“It was made clear to him that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action.
“Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations.”
– Raelene Castle, chief executive of Rugby Australia
“All professional Rugby players in Australia are bound by the Code of Conduct and there is a process in place for any disciplinary matter. We appreciate that this particular matter will attract significant interest, but due process must be followed.”
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This is not the first time Folau has fallen foul over his anti-LGBT+ beliefs. Last year, he said gay people would go to “hell” unless “they repent their sins and turn to God.” The comments led to widespread backlash at the time.
Israel Folau said he was prepared to leave rugby if God wanted him to
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday (April 14), Folau said he did not regret saying gay people would go to hell.
“I’ll stand on what the Bible says. I share it with love,” he told the news outlet.
“I can see the other side of the coin where people’s reactions are the total opposite to how I’m sharing it.”
He added: “I can’t change what the word of God says.”
Folau also said that he is prepared to leave rugby if he has to.
“It’s obviously a decision that’s in the process right now but I believe in a God that’s in control of all things.
The player continued: “First and foremost, I live for God now. Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that’s not to continue on playing, so be it.
“In saying that, obviously I love playing footy and if it goes down that path I’ll definitely miss it. But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first.”