Rugby Australia Apologises To Israel Folau, Settles Case With Confidential Terms
Israel Folau had made a claim for $14 million from Rugby Australia, following his sacking from the national team after several controversial social media posts.
He had shared images on his Instagram page claiming that "hell awaits" for "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators" and others. Rugby Australia had asked the national star to remove the posts, and when he refused, his contract was terminated.
Folau, who had also played in the NRL and AFL, took the rugby governing body to court, alleging unfair dismissal. He had last week lodged claims for $14 million in compensation and lost earnings.
On Wednesday, Rugby Australia issued a statement, saying it had reached a settlement with Folau, and apologised for "any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus" -- but said they did not agree with his social media posts.
"Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby do not in any way agree with the content of the Social Media Post. Inclusiveness is one of Rugby’s core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community," the rugby statement read.
"While it was not Rugby Australia’s intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus. Similarly, Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused."
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".
"Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality and that he shares Rugby Australia’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity," the statement continued.
Rugby Australia said it and Folau "wish each other well for the future."
"The Parties do not intend to comment further on the terms of their settlement as it is confidential," the statement read.
In a video posted to his website, Folau said he was "extremely pleased with the settlement reached today".
Standing alongside wife Maria, Folau thanked supporters, as well as the Australian Christian Lobby, which had organised fundraisers to pay his legal fees.
"With today’s acknowledgement and apology by Rugby Australia, we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family," Folau said.