St George Bank, a longtime sponsor of the NRL club seeking to sign up Israel Folau, has addressed the controversy over his possible comeback this year.
Folau may return to playing NRL this year after the St George Illawarra Dragons in NSW confirmed they hope to sign him up.
The Dragons have formally approached the NRL hoping to sign him to play on a multi-year deal.
St George Bank have sponsored the Dragons for four decades, and have issued a statement addressing the club’s approach of Folau.
A spokesperson said, “The selection of players is the responsibility of the St George Illawarra Dragons and the NRL.
“St George Bank plays no role in the selection of players and we don’t comment on individuals.
“As a long-term sponsor of both the men and women’s team, and a bank which has operated in the same areas and communities as the team’s fans, we understand the passion people have for the team, and the positive role that the team can play in the community.
“St George Bank upholds an inclusive environment that does not discriminate on the basis of gender, ethnicity or sexuality.
“These values align with the NRL’s own commitment to respecting and celebrating diversity.”
Pride in Sport says Israel Folau’s views at odds with NRL policies
Israel Folau had his multi-million dollar footy contracts ripped up over his homophobic commentary on social media in 2019.
The devout Christian later sued Rugby Australia for religious discrimination over his sacking. He reached a confidential settlement with them in December 2019.
Pride in Sport is a not-for-profit program that works with Australian sporting clubs on LGBTQ inclusion. Gay rugby pioneer Andrew Purchas co-founded the Pride in Sport Index.
Purchas said if Israel Folau was to return a “zero-tolerance policy on harassment and discrimination against LGBTQ people” was needed.
“His past statements about LGBTQ communities work in direct opposition to the significant progress on acceptance and inclusion that sporting codes, clubs and organisations [are making],” he said.
“History has shown Israel Folau’s repeated failures to abide by sporting inclusion policies despite assurances.
“NRL is a code that prides itself as being a sport for everyone with strong values of diversity and inclusion. He must abide by NRL’s policies.
“Sporting clubs must take a stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia when it happens.”
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