The Israel Folau conduct hearing before Rugby Australia is likely to drag on into next week, however, there are reports today in the Sunday Telegraph that the disgraced player knocked back a $1 million offer to walk away before the matter commenced.
In January of this year, Folau signed a four-year contract extension worth $4 million, however, rugby’s governing body terminated him in April, after an Instagram post in which he denounced gay people, saying they will go to hell unless they “repent.”
This was the second time he had made such comments on social media, and he had promised coach Michael Cheika and Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle that he would not post such material in future, thereby bringing his employer into disrepute.
Per the Sunday Telegraph, Israel Folau was given a verbal warning about his earlier conduct, and at the time he signed his new contract, he was also asked to sign his name to a letter containing additional clauses about social media, but refused to do so.
Folau will likely not play for Australia again, but if he is successful at his hearing, Rugby Australia could be forced to pay out the full $4 million value of his contract, leaving them in potentially serious financial trouble, especially as key sponsors threaten to walk away.
While slinking off overseas is always an option for former Aussie athletes, France will seemingly not welcome Folau with open arms. Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal labelled him a “moron”, while sports mag L’Equipe called him out in a special edition on homophobia in sport.
A feature entitled ‘Homophobia: A season of hate’ touched on various incidents, including the homophobic assault of Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas, and the case of boxer Adrien Broner, who threatened to murder gay people in a rant on social media.
The magazine also made mention of Folau for creating a “social and cultural crisis” in Australian sport, with his comments that “hell awaits” gay people.
Rugby Australia may give an update on the hearing at some point today, but a result will likely not be know for several more days.
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