Wallabies star Israel Folau can likely forget about fulfilling an Olympic dream with Australia Sevens, with the furore over his anti-gay comments yet to die down and his relationship with Rugby Australia shattered beyond repair.
Earlier this year, Folau said he was considering making himself available to represent Australia in the rugby sevens event in the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo, which would entail taking a break from all formats of 15s and dedicating his time to the sevens squad.
However, the 30-year-old got himself in hot water after posting comments against homosexuals, atheists, thieves and liars, among others, prompting Rugby Australia to announce that it would terminate his A$4 million a year contract. Folau is challenging the decision in an ongoing tribunal hearing.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has labelled Folau’s comments as “disrespectful” and claimed he won’t pick him regardless of the outcome of his case. With Folau’s Wallabies career over, his hopes of playing sevens for Australia has also gone up in flames.
My thoughts are with Israel Folau today as he faces his Censorship Kangaroo Court.
Quoting Bible should not be a workplace crime.
The ARU should respect the rights of those who preach valid religious beliefs.
I will be moving Protection of Religious Freedom Laws in NSW Parliament
— Real Mark Latham (@RealMarkLatham) May 3, 2019
Friends and families, though, have voiced their support for Folau and stated that his comments were not aimed at anyone. His cousin Josiah Folau said his words were not spoken out of malice but rather with love.
“He’s a kind person, he’s a loving person,” Josiah has been quoted as saying in numerous media outlets. “He didn’t post the post or say what he said out of malice, it’s words that come straight from the Bible.
“The important thing for us is not so much the outcome but that the glory of God is revealed through this situation and that his truth is preached to the whole world.
“He posted it out of love and when I say out of love, he means the people that the post was about, so thieves, adulterers, liars, all of them, homosexuals as well … in the words of God it says if they continue in their sinful ways without having repented and being baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, they will end up in a place separated from God for eternity.
“So if you truly love someone, just as Israel loves everyone, he would want to warn people.”
Folau’s father, a pastor, said he believed his son did not commit any offence and that the words in his post were from the Bible.
“Israel did not do any wrong at all. All the words he posted up do not come from him, it comes from the bible,” Mr Folau said. “I talked to him and he said whatever God’s decision to his life, he will accept.”
Main photo credit: YouTube