Israel Folau and Australian Rugby: The Right to Freedom of Speech…

27 June 2019

Israel Folau said he felt “backed into a corner” by Rugby Australia when the organisation tried to pay him to take his controversial social media post down.

Speaking to Alan Jones and Peta Credlin on Sky News on Thursday night he said he’s looking for an apology, so he can get on with his sports career

“It’s been a very, very tough time for myself, Maria and our families over the past couple of weeks,” he said. “But, we’re holding up really strong and the support from the general public and those who are close to us has been amazing.”

He said his faith is the most important thing to him and it shapes every aspect of his life.

“The Bible and what I believe comes out of that is very important to me and I believe it’s my duty to share that,” he said.

He also claimed his social media message was one of love.

“I can see it from both sides, if I had a child who was a drug addict I would still love them,” he said.

He said Rugby Australia offered him money to take the post down, but he said he couldn’t do that because of the strength of his faith.

Folau was told if he took down his controversial Instagram post which claimed “hell” awaited “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers” and others unless they repent, it would be deemed as remorseful and would have potentially downgraded his code of conduct breach from “high level” to a low or mid-level breach.

“I felt I was backed into a corner, but in the end I couldn’t do it because my faith is most important,” he said.

He also said he’s not surprised by the backlash, because it states in the Bible that believers would be met with resistance for expressing their views.

Introducing his guest, Jones said, “I know this man, he’s a gentle Polynesian Christian soul”.

He warned that “you or I could be next.

“In court, you swear on the Bible to tell the truth, but don’t quote from the Bible or you’ll be sacked,” he said.

“We are in dangerous territory and thousands and thousands of Australians understand that, that’s why they’re giving money.”

He said Rugby Australia is spending money it should spend on grassroots sports to hire “the best lawyers in the country” to “humiliate” Folau.
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Today, for first time since Folau’s code of conduct hearing, RA’s chief executive Raelene Castle has spoken out on the ongoing issue.

In a statement released on Thursday, Castle reiterated the organisation’s stance as having “acted with complete professionalism”.

“Rugby Australia has acted with complete professionalism and integrity at all times through the process by which Israel was found, by an independent three-member tribunal panel, to have made multiple, serious breaches of the Professional Players Code of Conduct,” Castle’s statement read.

“The panel found the breaches constituted a high level and directed Rugby Australia to terminate Israel’s contract.”

It comes as a campaign to raise funds to support the ex-Wallaby’s legal stoush with Rugby Australia has been “paused” after donations topped $2 million.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), which set up the fundraiser on its website, said the flow of donations since it was opened on Tuesday had been “overwhelming”.

More than 20,000 people had donated more than $2.2 million by Thursday morning (AEST).
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https://www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/israel-folau-says-he-was-backed-into-a-corner-by-rugby-australia-over-his-social-media-posts/news-story/170b3fead9be2485aa4b2961b4784b2e

25 June 2019

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