Sources within the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) say the proposed return of Israel Folau to Rugby League has prompted the most ferocious backlash in the organisation’s history. Brisbane’s Courier-Mail reports that the gay and lesbian community bombarded the QRL with complaints in recent days.
Previously, Folau’s billionaire backer Clive Palmer threatened legal action against the QRL if they refuse to register Folau to play.
Folau began his sporting career in Rugby League before moving to Australian Rules and then Rugby Union. Rugby Australia (RA) fired the player for homophobic social media posts two years ago. Following legal action, RA reached a rumoured multi-million dollar settlement with Folau.
He then left for France where he returned to Rugby League with the Catalans Dragons. The Catalans released Folau to return home for family reasons. However, the club maintains Folau is still contracted to them.
Clive Palmer told a press conference that the Catalans defaulted on payments to Folau and thereby terminated the contract.
Return of Israel Folau to league
Clive Palmer last week backed the return of Israel Folau in the A-Grade Gold Coast competition this weekend. They plan for Folau to take the field for the Southport Tigers. Palmer earlier threatened to sue the QRL on grounds of religious discrimination if it fails to register Folau to play by Wednesday.
The Courier-Mail reports that the QRL will register Folau soon. However, the organisation will await clarification from the Catalans on the terms of Folau’s contract with them.
Meanwhile, gay and lesbian community leaders forwarded a report to the QRL last week naming discrimination in sports as a key factor in gay and lesbian youth suicides.