Australian rugby star Israel Folau faces sack over anti-gay outburst

The Wallabies superstar has been previously warned about his homophobic social media posts. He will now be unable to compete for Australia in the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

Rugby Australia (RA) has formally begun the process of sacking fullback Israel Folau over an anti-gay rant he left on social media.

"The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit deemed that Folau had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players' Code of Conduct warranting the termination of his employment contract," RA said in a statement on its website. "Folau has 48 hours to accept the sanction or have the matter referred to a Code of Conduct hearing."

"We appreciate this matter will attract significant interest but due process must be followed," the statement added.

Folau currently plays for the New South Wales Waratahs in Super Rugby, a rugby union competition involving teams from Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. He has won Australian player of the year a record three times, and would have been a key member of his national squad, nicknamed the Wallabies, at the Rugby World Cup in Japan in the fall.

Now live
01:11 mins.
DW News | 22.03.2019

Rugby fans set out on bikes for 2019 World Cup

History of homophobic rants

Last week, Folau, 30, posted on Instagram that "hell awaits" people who are "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers."

Earlier that day, after Tasmania became the first state in Australia to make gender optional on birth certificates, Folau wrote on Twitter that "the devil has blinded so many people."

A Christian fundamentalist, Folau had previously been warned over a series of homophobic posts. Last year, to the ire of RA's corporate sponsors, Folau wrote on social media that "God's plan for gay people was HELL."

On Sunday, he told the Sydney Morning Herald that it would be "God's will" if he never played rugby again. 

"First and foremost, I live for God now," he said. "Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that's not to continue on playing, so be it."

Out of Rugby World Cup

The seemingly inevitable termination of his contract leaves Folau unable to return to the rugby union, though he could potentially return to the rugby league or Australian rules football.

Related Subjects

On Monday, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said he would not have been able to select Folau after his latest "disrespectful" social media posts, even if the 30-year-old hadn't been sacked.

"We've had the discussion about it after the last time about his right to believe and our support in that," Chieka told reporters. "But getting out in that disrespectful manner publicly is not what our team's about."

Cheika said he felt the need to talk to Falou "about why," but he has not had the opportunity to do so yet.  

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

Handball World Cup

For the first time, the Handball World Cup will be hosted in two nations, with Germany and Denmark doing the honors (January 10-27). Back in 2007, Germany's national team had the nation gripped with handball fever after winning the title in front of a home crowd. Can they do it again?

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

Super Bowl LIII

The first Sunday in February means only one thing to many sports fans: Super Bowl time. The grand finale of the NFL season was watched by close to a billion people across the globe in 2018, as Philadelphia Eagles flipped the script to beat hot favorites New England Patriots. Who'll take the crown in 2019?

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

Alpine Skiing World Cup

The creme de la creme of world skiing go toe to toe in February 2019 (5-17), with the Swedish city of Are tasked with hosting the event. Particular focus will be on the downhill, considered the most important of all the skiing disciplines. Competitors reach speeds of up to 140 kph en route to the finish line. Two years ago, Felix Neureuther won bronze in the Slalom to claim Germany's only medal.

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

Biathlon World Cup

Six disciplines, six medals, five golds: Laura Dahlmeier (right) became the most successful competitor ever at a single World Cup when she bossed the slopes back in 2016. She's been forced to take some time out this season due to health reasons, but she's expected to return to fitness in time for the Östersund edition in March (7-13).

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

Ice Hockey World Cup

Guess who the favorites are! If you said anything other than Canada, Russia or Sweden, you need to brush up on your winter sports. The hockey juggernauts look set to battle it out for the crown again, but could slip up against the Czechs, touted as dark horses for this year's tournament, to be held from May10-26 in Bratislava and Kosice in Slovakia.

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

Champions League final

Real Madrid. Real Madrid. Real Madrid. The Spanish giants have lifted the past three European titles and would relish making it four in the Wanda Metropolitano, home to local rivals Atletico Madrid. Three German teams remain in the competition - Bayern Munich, Dortmund and Schalke - but do they have what it takes to lift the title on June 1?

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

FIFA Women's World Cup

Germany's women's team have twice lifted the World Cup, but their last triumph came way back in 2007. Following a disastrous Euro 2017, in which they failed to make it out of their group, a new coach, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, is tasked with bringing through the next generation of talent. Title holders USA are favorites for next summer's tournament, which is to be hosted by France.

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

European Athletics Championships

50 nations compete across 21 disciplines, with everything from javelin to sambo included on the bill. July (14-30) sees Minsk play host to the second edition of the championships. The first was held in Baku in 2015. Question marks over Belalrus's suitability as a host nation have been raised, owing to a patchy human rights record, but when has that ever stopped an Olympic Committee?

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

Tour de France

The 106th edition of the world's most famous bike race should provide the usual thrills: farmers protests, accusations of doping and the wait to find out which member of Team Sky wins the Yellow Jersey. The first stage will start in Brussels on July 6, after six of the previous seven started in Britain.

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

Rugby World Cup

One of the biggest events on the world sporting calendar, and Germany very nearly made it this time! The defending champions, New Zealand, are hot favorites to lift the title again when the tournament kicks off in Japan in the autumn.

The sporting year 2019: What we can look forward to

Athletics World Championships

Everybody knows Qatar are gearing up to host the 2022 World Cup. Fewer people know they're also hosting the 2019 Athletics World Championships. Due to the heat, the marathon will be held during the night. "It's all very new and exciting," said Seb Coe, President of the IAAF. Try telling that to the runners!

dv, es/rt (AP, dpa, Reuters)

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

Related content