Christian Australian rugby star, Israel Folau has been ruled out of Rugby World Cup over his disturbing homophobic social media posts.
The 30-year-old said on his Instagram and Twitter accounts last week that ‘hell awaits’ for ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters.’
Because of the controversial comments, Folau won’t be part of the Wallabies’ plans for the tournament in Japan, starting in September.
“You wouldn’t be able to,” Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said when asked whether he could select Folau again under the circumstances.
Cheika conceded Folau had crossed a line which was marked when the religiously-motivated player made similar tweets a year ago. “Getting out in that disrespectful manner publicly is not what our team’s about,” Cheika said on Monday. “When you play in the gold jersey, we represent everyone in Australia – everyone. Everyone that’s out there supporting us. We don’t pick and choose.”
The full-back has also been served with a breach notice over his homophobic social media posts and has until 5pm NZT on Wednesday to respond to a formal notification from the organisation alleging he committed a “high-level” breach of the players’ code of conduct, warranting his sacking.
“It’s very disappointing from my perspective because I had a very direct and specific conversation with him about the expectations that I had,” Rugby Australia’s chief executive Raelene Castle said.
“He accepted that conversation, he said that he understood that conversation, he shook my hand at the end of that conversation, said that he was very clear of it, and yet he has gone off and done what he’s done.”
This comes a year after Folau, a staunch Christian, was warned for making homophobic comments on social media but escaped disciplinary action.
RA chief executive Raelene Castle declared on Monday morning that Folau is in breach of contract.
Castle said: ‘Following the events of last year, Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as a player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations.
‘It was made clear to him that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action.
‘All professional rugby players in Australia are bound by the code of conduct and there is a process in place for any disciplinary matter.’