The Australian rugby union authorities have ended Australian rugby player Israel Folau’s contract over a social media post in which he said “hell awaits” gay people.
He has 48 hours to accept his sacking, or face a code of conduct hearing. Rugby Australia said the 30-year-old “had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract”, BBC reported.
He has won 73 caps and was expected to play at this year’s World Cup in Japan.
Full-back Folau, who signed a four-year deal with Sydney-based Super Rugby side the Waratahs in March and had a contract with Rugby Australia until 2022, escaped punishment for similar comments last year.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle said: “Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as a player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations. It was made clear to him that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action.”
The committed Christian last week posted a banner on his Instagram account that read: “Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, and idolators – Hell awaits you.”
The post remains online and on Sunday the player said he was standing by “what the Bible says”. “First and foremost, I live for God now. Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that’s not to continue on playing, so be it,” he added. In saying that, obviously I love playing footy and if it goes down that path I’ll definitely miss it. But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first.”
In addition to his rugby union career, Folau has also played professional rugby league and Australian football.
Last week Australian rugby league’s governing body ruled out Folau returning to the National Rugby League.