ISRAEL Folau’s multi-million dollar contract with Rugby Australia has been terminated over his controversial social media posts aimed at gays and other “sinners”.
A drawn-out code of conduct hearing reached a dramatic conclusion on Friday afternoon after an independent three-person panel found Folau’s controversial Instagram posts on April 10 warranted his sacking.
The Wallaby star was stood down last month after posting an image to Instagram, saying “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists idolaters” were going to hell.
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The independent panel of John West QC, Kate Eastman SC and John Boultbee SC on Friday ruled that Folau’s comments constituted a high-level breach of Rugby Australia’s code of conduct.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle confirmed the verdict in a press conference at Rugby Australia headquarters in Sydney a short time ago.
“This issue has created an unwanted disruption in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team.
“Our clear message today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork.
“People need to feel safe and welcoming the game, regardless of their race, background or sexuality.”
The 30-year-old is reportedly set to take the dispute directly to the Supreme Court where he will claim he was wrongly dismissed for expressing religious beliefs.
He released the following statement this afternoon:
“It has been a privilege and an honour to represent Australia and my home state of New South Wales, playing the game I love.
“I am deeply saddened by today’s decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.
“As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression. The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s word. Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country.
“I would like to thank my wife Maria for her love and encouragement to stay true to our beliefs. We have been humbled by the support we have received from family, friends, players, fans and the wider community.
“Thank you also to those who have spoken out in my defence, some of whom do not share my beliefs but have defended my right to express them,” the statement read.