BREAKING NEWS: Israel Folau is SACKED: Star rugby player has his $4million contract torn up over homophobic posts – but his battle is far from over
Israel Folau was today official sacked from the Australia rugby union team.
The decision makes the devout Christian the first Australian athlete dismissed for expressing religious beliefs.
Folau has the right to appeal and have his case heard at a second code of conduct hearing by a new panel.
But he will reportedly skip that process and head straight to the Supreme Court to argue that he is being persecuted for his religious beliefs.
If sacked, Folau (pictured with his wife Maria) would be the first Australian athlete dismissed for expressing religious beliefs
The three-person panel last week retired to decide on Folau’s sanction following an epic code of conduct hearing in Sydney.
Folau’s trial has stretched far beyond the rugby pitch, triggering a wider debate in Australia about freedom of speech and the power of employers to control their employees away from the workplace.
The offending post, which has attracted 54,000 ‘likes’ and 48,000 comments, remains on Folau’s Instagram page.
They made the decision today to terminated his $4million contract.
Christian Reds and Rebels players huddle on the pitch after their match last weekend in solidarity with Folau
Rugby Australia has called a 3pm press conference in Sydney to announce Israel Folau’s sanction for his controversial social media posts.
Folau has played 73 Tests for the Wallabies and became Super Rugby’s all-time leading try-scorer earlier this year.
The fullback of Tongan descent was given a formal warning by Rugby Australia last year after sharing a similar homophobic post that claimed gays were destined for hell.
He then signed a lucrative contract extension in October.
Folau’s career kicked off in rugby league, where he played 91 NRL games, five Origin games for Queensland and represented Australia on eight occasions.
He also played 13 games for AFL club GWS Giants in 2011-12.
Folau was issued with a ‘high-level’ breach notice last month after he shared this social media post which claimed homosexuals were going to hell unless they ‘repent’