Australian rugby superstar Israel Folau escaped punishment for declaring that gay people are going to Hell in an Instagram post last week.
Folau also defended his remarks over the weekend with another post suggesting he was being persecuted for his beliefs.
Folau will face no punishment for his statements but has agreed to “think about” their impact.
Said Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle: “We are in a negotiation with Israel to extend [his contract] and we would really like him to stay in rugby, that’s hugely important to us, he is a great player, he has delivered some great outcomes for us and has been a really strong role model in the Pacific Islander community and we would like to see he stays in rugby…I think Israel has acknowledged that maybe he could have put a positive spin on that same message and done it in a more respectful way.”
Folau last week replied to a follower in an Instagram post who asked, “what was gods plan for gay people?”
In the comments section of the post, Folau, who plays for New South Wales Waratahs, replied, “HELL.. Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs, for which Folau plays, said they would seek an explanation from Folau and denounced the player.
Folau, a devout Christian raised as a Mormon who converted to the Assemblies of God fellowship with his family in 2011, made headlines last September during Australia’s debate over same-sex marriage, when he tweeted, “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.”
Rugby Australia’s inclusion policy states: “Rugby has and must continue to be a sport where players, officials, volunteers, supporters and administrators have the right and freedom to participate regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion and without fear of exclusion. There is no place for homophobia or any form of discrimination in our game and our actions and words both on and off the field must reflect this.”