Sponsor pressure brought to bear as Australia sacks Folau
Rugby Australia, the governing body for rugby union in the country, has sacked national team star Israel Folau after the player came in for heavy criticism from officials, fans and sponsors over a homophobic social media post.
Folau (pictured), who has won 73 caps for the Wallabies, had been in the spotlight since uploading a message on Instagram last week which said that hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters.”
RA’s integrity unit launched an investigation and it was announced today that the player's multi-year contract had been terminated.
In a statement, the governing body said that the 30-year-old “had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players' Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract.”
He has 48 hours to accept the decision, or face a code of conduct hearing.
Folau, who has defended his actions on religious grounds, was already on a warning after posting similarly controversial posts last year. These prompted Qantas, the Australian airline, to threaten to end its sponsorship of the national team.
In a statement last week, the company said of the player's post: “These comments are really disappointing and clearly don't reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support. We are pleased to see Rugby Australia's condemnation of the comments and will await the outcome of their review."