Israel Folau settles legal dispute with Rugby Australia over sacking

Carrie Guzman
December 5, 2019

Ms Castle said the organisation made the right call in sacking Folau in April for his religiously-motivated but inflammatory anti-gay social media posts.

RA said it had not meant to hurt the player's feelings, but "acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus".

It included one with proclaimed that "hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators".

He had been suing Rugby Australia for AUD $14 million after having his contract terminated in May.

Rugby Australia said it acknowledged the Instagram post "reflected Mr Folau's genuinely held religious beliefs" and that he "did not intend to harm or offend any person".

Announcing the settlement, Rugby Australia apologised to Folau for "harm caused" - while the rugby star opted to apologise for any harm "to the game of rugby" without addressing the impact of his comments on young LGBT+ people.

He had been set to demand Aus$14 million (US$9.5 million) in compensation, claiming he was unlawfully dismissed under legislation that bans sacking someone due to their religion.

Former Australia fullback Israel Folau has settled his unfair dismissal case with Rugby Australia and Super Rugby team the New South Wales Waratahs, Folau and Rugby Australia said in a joint statement. After the player's GoFundMe was shut down, faith-based advocacy group "The Australian Christian Lobby" set up an alternative campaign on their platform, taking donations of over $2 million to help Folau with his legal costs.

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Martin said he wasn't concerned that RA had to apologise to Folau as part of the settlement but felt there were still questions over chief executive Raelene Castle's handling of the matter.

Following the decision, Folau published a video statement saying he had been "vindicated".

A future in French rugby is also unlikely with outspoken owner of rugby club Toulon, Mourad Boudjellal, labelling Folau a "moron".

He sparked outrage with one sermon last month that suggested deadly bushfires raging in Australia were "God's judgement" for the legalisation of same-sex marriage and abortion.

"That's lawyer stuff - they wanted that and to reach a settlement everyone had to give a bit of ground and Australian rugby union (RA) had to give a lot of money so that's the way it's gone", he said.

The statement added that "Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused".

Now the dispute is settled, we'll just have to see what lies ahead for Folau.

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