Former Wallabies outside back Israel Folau stands by the social media post that led to his contract with Rugby Australia being terminated.
Folau has admitted that he knew the post would cause offense before he chose to share it on his social media. The post condemned gay people as sinners and claimed ‘hell awaits’ them and others who fail to adhere to prescriptions found in the Christian bible.
The decision to sack Folau, who had been warned by Rugby Australia over a similar previous incident, has proven divisive. Folau claims that he has been terminated for exercising his religion while RA have countered by saying the avowed Christian had his contract terminated for violating the terms of his $1-million deal.
Folau was a featured guest at the Australian Christian Lobby annual conference in Sydney this weekend and was interviewed on stage.
“Obviously the gospel was offensive to a lot of people and it was offensive to me at one point but that caused me to have a change of heart, to come to repentance and realise I was a sinner and needed a saviour,” Folau said. “So I knew it was going to be offensive to a lot of people … but ultimately it’s a message of love.”
Folau insists that his contract did not include any social media clause.
“I never had a special social media clause, I had a standard contract, the same as every other player,” he said.
The ACL have raised more than AUS$2-million for Folau’s legal challenge against Rugby Australia.
Folau remains committed to earning compensation from Rugby Australia in what he says is a matter of principle.
“I had purpose in my heart that I would stand up for the truth regardless of what I might lose in life,” he said.
Folau branded a hyprocrite
Many within Australia and beyond have labelled Folau a hypocrite for failing to adhere to the ideals he celebrates.
Among those pointing out a lack of integrity from Folau was UFC fighter Tai Tuivasa.
“You need a hiding,” he wrote in response to Folau’s post.
“I’ve seen you out blind as a skunk carrying on now you wanna be all churchy.”
The former Waratah had his GoFundMe page started to raise money for his legal defence taken down and at the time earned the ire of former teammate Drew Mitchell.
Mitchell took umbrage to Folau’s appeal appearing alongside those of children needing medical procedures as well as the fact that it had garnered more financial support.