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Rugby Australia terminates Israel Folau’s contract over social media post

Rugby Australia has terminated their contract with Israel Folau over a social media post in which he said “hell awaits” gay people.

Folau, one of the sport’s top players, published a message on his Instagram account saying that hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators”.

RA chief executive Raelene Castle said she and NSW Rugby Union chief Andrew Hore made “repeated attempts” to contact Folau directly and via his representatives but he failed to communicate with them.

Ms Castle said: “As a code we have made it clear to Israel formally and repeatedly that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action.

“In the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.

“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 he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.

“Israel has failed to understand that the expectation of him as a Rugby Australia and NSW Waratahs employee is that he cannot share material on social media that condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality.

“Rugby is a sport that continuously works to unite people. We want everyone to feel safe and welcome in our game and no vilification based on race, gender, religion or sexuality.

“It is unacceptable and no language that isolates, divides, or insults people based on any of those factors can be tolerated.”

In April last year Folau posted a reply to a social media commentator in which he said “hell” is where gay people were destined to go.

No sanctions were taken against him and he signed a new four-year contract with Rugby Australia at the end of the year.

The new deal was understood to have new clauses relating to his use of social media.

The decision comes just five months before the start of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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