Israel Folau is a star rugby player and a devout Christian who isn’t afraid of expressing his religious beliefs.
But stating those beliefs has landed the 30-year-old in hot water with Rugby Australia, which said one of his social media posts warrants termination of his contract,
CNN reported, which is worth $4 million.
Folau’s Instagram post last month —
which has not been deleted — listed a “warning” to “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters,” and then noted underneath the list, “Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves.”
“Those that are living in sin will end up in Hell unless you repent,” he added in the caption. “Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”
Folau also quoted the King James version of Galatians 5:19-21, from which his Instagram post was inspired — and features a much longer list of wrongdoings.
How did officials react?
The rugby league issued Folau a code of conduct breach in April, CNN said, and he requested a hearing. After the three-day hearing, Rugby Australia found Folau guilty, the network noted.
“The panel has today provided a judgement that Israel Folau committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct with his social media posts on April 10, 2019,” Rugby Australia said in a news release,
The disciplinary panel said it will “take further written submissions from the parties to consider the matter of sanction. A further update will be provided after the panel delivers its decision on sanction,” CNN said.
Folau plays fullback for the Wallabies and was expected to star for his country at this year’s World Cup, the network said, adding that his contract with Rugby Australia runs through 2022. Folau was warned last year after making a comment on social media saying that gay people would go to hell unless they repented, CNN added.
‘I’ll stand on what the Bible says’
Citing an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald last month, CNN indicated Folau refused to apologize for the post.
“I’ll stand on what the Bible says,” he said. “I share it with love. I can see the other side of the coin where people’s reactions are the total opposite to how I’m sharing it.”
Reuters said a local media report indicated Folau and his advisers last week rejected a $1 million offer to walk away from the game.
Wallabies star Israel Folau guilty of contract breach | Nine News Australia
What are others saying?
CNN said former Australia rugby coach Alan Jones wrote
an opinion column for the Australian calling the situation “a rugby crisis which has morphed into a social crisis which will open gigantic wounds in relation to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
Peter Beattie, head of the Australian Rules and Rugby League for which Folau previously played, said Folau “fails” at the league’s “inclusiveness culture” — meaning his return to that league is likely out of the question, CNN said.
British rugby player Billy Vunipola received a formal warning from the Rugby Football Union and his club Saracens after defending Folau in an Instagram post, the network added.
“What he’s saying isn’t that he doesn’t like or love those people. He’s saying how we live our lives needs to be closer to how God intended them to be,”
Vunipola wrote, CNN said. “Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no?”
Playing European rugby might not happen, either, as the president of the Toulon rugby club, Mourad Boudjellal, told French sports journal L’Equipe that Folau is “a moron; he ought to clear out. Or he needs to buy himself a brain. He still has the Ku Klux Klan; then he’ll see what it’s like on the other side,”
LifeSite News said.
Sportswear brand Asics dropped Folau’s contract over the issue,
CNN said in a separate story.
“Asics is dedicated to sports and its healthy contribution to society,” Asics said in a statement, CNN noted. “We believe sport is for everyone and we champion inclusivity and diversity. While Israel Folau is entitled to his personal views, some of those expressed in recent social media posts are not aligned with those of Asics. As such, our partnership with Israel has become untenable and he will no longer represent Asics as a brand ambassador.”
Here’s Folau in action:
ISRAEL FOLAU ● World Class | Highlights ᴴᴰ