In the wake of his demands for a “code of conduct” hearing, an independent panel has found Australian rugby star Israel Folau guilty of a high level breach of contract and is now deciding on his future in the sport.
The Guardian reports: ‘While Folau may yet be spared the sack, termination of his contract is now a possibility. Had the panel deemed Folau’s breach of RA’s players’ code of conduct anything less than “high level”, the governing body would not have had the power to boot the three-times John Eales Medallist out of the game. The best punishment Folau can now hope for is a suspension and/or a fine. … Should he be sacked, Folau – Super Rugby’s all-time leading try-scorer and a 73-Test stalwart for the Wallabies – would be the first Australian athlete dismissed for expressing fundamental religious beliefs.’
The punishment may not be known for a few days, after which Folau still has the right to appeal to a newly-selected panel.
In April, Rugby Australia said it was terminating Folau’s contract after the player posted a meme to Instagram that said Hell awaits all homosexuals. Folau challenged the firing and the “code of conduct” panel was assembled.
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Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him. _______________ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 KJV _______________ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38 KJV _______________ And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Acts 17:30 KJV _______________
Said Rugby Australia at the time: “Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Rugby Union have made repeated attempts to contact Israel both directly and via his representatives since 6.30pm on Wednesday, and at this point he has failed to communicate directly with either organisation. Whilst Israel is entitled to his religious beliefs, the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport. We want to make it clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.”
You may recall that Folau was nearly expelled from the sport in 2018 after a series of similar homophobic actions.
Folau, a devout Christian raised as a Mormon who converted to the Assemblies of God fellowship with his family in 2011, made headlines in September 2017 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.”
One year ago in April 2018, Folau 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.
Rugby Australia declined to punish Folau, though its 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.”
Then, one month after coming under scrutiny, Folau tweeted an anti-gay video.
The video featured a sermon by evangelical preacher David Wilkerson and footage of a Pride march where Christian street preachers were being protested, and a clip of the White House lit in rainbow colors against narration that said, “Now is the time to get right with God because this generation has lost the fear of God. There’s no fear of God left in the land.”
Folau also said he’d rather walk away from rugby than defy the Bible.