Israel Folau’s $4 million contract has been terminated by Rugby Australia over his Instagram post declaring “hell awaits” gay people.
The Wallabies star was stood down by Rugby Australia in April, after he posted an image on Instagram that read “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists idolaters” were going to hell unless they repented.
This week, an independent panel found Folau had committed a “high-level” code of conduct breach, leaving him open to be being sacked.
If Folau appeals the decision in the next 72 hours, another code of conduct hearing would take place with a different set of panelists.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said Folau’s post left the organisation with no other option.
“We want to stress that this outcome is a painful situation for the game,” Castle said.
“Rugby Australia did not choose to be in this situation.
“But Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue this course of action.
“This has been an extremely challenging period for rugby and this situation has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies.
“But our clear message to all Rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork.
“When we say rugby is a game for all, we mean it.
“People need to feel safe and welcomed in our game regardless of their gender, race, background, religion, or sexuality.
“Israel is a great rugby player and we are disappointed and saddened by the fact that he will not see out his four-year commitment to the Wallabies and Waratahs.”
‘It is always the will of God that comes first’
Last Sunday, the devout Christian told a Sydney church address he had resisted the “temptation” of a peace offering from Rugby Australia that would have allowed him to continue his career.
“Potentially I could get terminated, which means that there’s no more playing contract and therefore no more finances or money coming in,” he said.
“It would be the first time it has happened to me in my life.
“All the materialistic things I have been able to have over the last number of years are slowly being taken away from me.
“It’s been really challenging but also it’s been encouraging to myself to see what my God is actually doing.”
Folau said the peace offering from Rugby Australia was “Satan’s work”.
“The way Satan works is he offers you stuff that could look good to the eye and makes you feel comfortable, and if you follow that path all the worries and troubles will go away,” he said.
“[But] it is always the will of God that comes first.”
‘Homophobia and transphobia has no place in sport’
Sydney Convicts founder and Pride in Sport co-founder Andrew Purchas said he welcomed the move to terminate Folau’s contract.
“This decision sends a strong message that homophobia and transphobia will not be tolerated in Rugby Union,” Purchas said.
“The views of Mr Folau on LGBTQ people do not reflect community standards and expectations.
“Such statements work against the significant progress on acceptance and inclusion that is being made by sporting codes, clubs and organisations across Australia.
“We know that statements of sporting figures can have a profound impact on our culture, as well as have great influence on the community – especially young people.
“Homophobia and transphobia has no place in sport, whether on or off the field.”
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