Australian rugby star Israel Folau was sacked on Friday after a tribunal found him guilty of a "high-level" breach of the code of conduct.
"This outcome is a painful situation for the game," Rugby Australia (RA) Chief Executive Raelene Castle said, adding "Israel left us with no choice" but to terminate the 30-year-old's contract.
Folau, who is a fundamentalist Christian and was raised as a Mormon, has repeatedly tweeted homophobic content in the last two years. The proceedings against him were triggered by a tweet from April 10, where he claimed that hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers" and others he considers "sinners."
"RA supports (players') rights to their own beliefs and nothing changes from that. But when we talk about inclusiveness we mean that we respect our differences as well."
Fullback Folau was a key player for the Australian national rugby union team, the Wallabies. He was also going to be part of the squad for this autumn's Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Folau has played both rugby union and rugby league — two of the three codes of the game — at professional level. He also holds the all-time record for tries scored in the southern hemisphere's Super Rugby league. He has also played Australian rules football.
Folau has 72 hours to appeal the ruling.
ng/rt (AFP, Reuters, AP)