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Israel Folau said he was “deeply saddened” by the decision of the independent three-person panel to direct that his four-year contract be terminated over his anti-gay social media post of last month.
Folau, arguably one of the greatest footballers ever to play in Australia, has been embroiled in a storm of controversy ever since he posted statements online saying that homosexuals were going to hell unless they repented.
The panel terminated Folau’s four-year, $4 million Rugby Australia contract on Friday.
In his statement on the matter Folau says: “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 expressions. The Christian faith has always been part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s words.
“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 ends.
Folau has been sacked by Rugby Australia for his post on social media that said hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers” and others.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said it was a sad day for Australian rugby but that Folau had left the governing body with no alternative than to seek termination of his contract.
“We want to stress that this outcome is a painful situation for the game,” Castle said on Friday.
“Rugby Australia did not choose to be in this situation, but Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue this course of action.
“This has been an extremely challenging period for Rugby and this issue has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team.
“But our clear message to all Rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork.
“I’ve communicated directly with the players to make it clear that Rugby Australia fully supports their right to their own beliefs and nothing that has happened changes that.
Meanwhile, former Wallabies coach and radio broadcaster Alan Jones blasted Rugby Australia over its decision to sack Israel Folau, some Australian players used social media to show their love and support for their ex-teammate.
Jones has been in Folau's corner since his inflammatory Instagram post, which resulted in his four-year contract being torn up on Friday.
A long-time critic of RA and its chief executive Raelene Castle, Jones lashed the decision.
"There's no surprise here...you're dealing with incompetent people ... and incompetent people always behave incompetently," Jones said on 2GB on Friday.
"They've destroyed his employment and internationally destroyed his name for quoting a passage from the bible for God's sake."
Jones said that RA kowtowed to the demands of their major sponsor Qantas and its openly gay chief executive Alan Joyce.
Folau posted a biblical quote which said "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" would go to hell unless they repented.
''There is only one issue here and that is they are getting money from a sponsor and apparently the sponsor has intervened and said he doesn't like it. If that's the case you find another sponsor,'' Jones said.
''They have created the problem. Of course an employer has the rights (to sack him), but you actually don't own the person.
'This is not in the workplace. This is outside the workplace for proclaiming his Christian faith. He hasn't slaughtered anyone, he hasn't insulted anyone and he hasn't even tried to push this stuff down anyone's throat."
''I haven't even found out who has taken offence. The drunks didn't, the idolators didn't, and the fornicators didn't. Who has taken offence? I've spoken to a lot of gay people and they haven't taken offence.
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