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Rugby clubs in the UK are seeking legal advice over potential loss of earnings from playing against disgraced Israel Folau

Josh Milton February 6, 2020
Israel Folau was sacked from the New South Wales Waratahs for homophobic comments less than a year ago

Israel Folau was sacked from the New South Wales Waratahs for homophobic comments less than a year ago. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

British rugby clubs are now seeking legal advice for potential loss of earnings if they pay against Israel Folau, the embattled player sacked for a string of homophobic comments.

The sports star caused tremors in the UK after France-based RFL Super League team Catalans Dragons signed him last month.

Of the dozen teams in the Super League, 10 are based in the UK. Meaning that the bulk of Folau’s away games will be on British soil.

British rugby teams gearing up for financial loss due to Israel Folau’s signing. 

As a result, Super League clubs are threatening legal action against Catalans Dragons if Israel Folau’s presence causes significant financial loss, the Daily Mail reported.

Hull KR owner Neil Hudgell wrote to the Catalans last week, the paper reported.

Israel Folau departs after Rugby Australia's code of conduct hearing. (Matt King/Getty Images)
Israel Folau departs after Rugby Australia’s code of conduct hearing. (Matt King/Getty Images)

Rallying together a handful of the British teams to spar with the player, the teams are jointly demanding that the club put themselves “on notice” if Hudgell’s or any club endure “financial loss” as a result of Folau’s transfer.

This covers both withdrawal of title sponsors or lack of external investment.

Hudgell told the BBC: “I reserve my position to take processing versus Catalans Dragons.

“For example, if a title sponsor withdraws or external investment is not secured, or quantifiable reputational damage is caused to the brand of Super League and its members.”

Israel Folau has made a number of anti-LGBT+ comments in recent years.

The devout Christian, who has played in rugby leagues and the Australian Football League at the highest level, was locked in a legal battle with Rugby Australia, the governing body that sacked him.

Administrators cut ties with him for allegedly breaching his $4 million contract following months of heated derogatory comments from the player over the years.

Israel Folau arrives ahead of his conciliation meeting with Rugby Australia at Fair Work Commission on June 28, 2019 in Sydney, Australia.
Israel Folau arrives ahead of his conciliation meeting with Rugby Australia at Fair Work Commission on June 28, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Don Arnold/Getty)

He eventually reached an undisclosed settlement, bringing an end to the dismissal saga.

In 2017, he caused controversy when he said that he opposed marriage equality and would be voting ‘no’ in Australia’s postal vote on the issue.

Last year, he said that gay people would go to hell “unless they repent of their sins” on Instagram. He received a warning for his comments but was not fired.

However, Folau doubled down on his anti-LGBT+ comments in April 2019 when he shared a meme on Instagram that warned that gay people would go to hell.

He was subsequently fired in May of this year over his anti-LGBT+ comments.

Folau even launched a $3 million crowd-funder to cover the piling legal costs of the federal court battle, that GoFundMe later took down.

His sudden signing last month onto a one-year contract shocked many in the sports scene.

However, club managers have stressed that is Folau expresses further anti-LGBT views, he would face “immediate termination”.

More: Catalans Dragons, israel folau, Rugby, super league

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