Anglican Bishop brands Israel Folau's religious comments 'hate speech'

Gary Ablett of the Cats

Folau is awaiting sanctioning after being found guilty of a "high level" breach of the professional players' code of conduct and could have his four-year, A$4 million (NZ$4.27m) deal terminated for his controversial social media posts.

An independent panel found Folau guilty of a "high level" contract breach during a code of conduct hearing in Sydney.

"Asics is dedicated to sports and its healthy contribution to society", Asics said in a statement, CNN noted.

"We believe sport is for everyone and we champion inclusivity and diversity".

Castle said Folau was warned "formally and repeatedly" about the expectations on him as a player, following similar social media posts from past year.

This week, Asics said "our partnership with Israel has become untenable and he will no longer represent Asics as a brand ambassador".

Auto company Land Rover also ditched their sponsorship agreement with Folau.

The 30-year-old devout Christian posted on Instagram that "hell awaits" for "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators".

However, Folau has been issued with a high-level breach, which is serious enough for Rugby Australia to warrant a termination of his contract, while the post remains on his Instagram account, which has 354,000 followers.




A panel of John West QC, Kate Eastman SC and John Boultee presided over the three-day hearing, and wants more information before deciding on potential punishments for Folau.

Folau's Wallabies teammate Quade Cooper - himself frozen out previous year by Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn - was asked earlier on Tuesday if he could see any way back for the stood-down star.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says he is "uneasy" about rugby worldwide Israel Folau losing his job for expressing religious views.

Folau's perceived lack of clarity on what he could and couldn't say and "loving" intentions toward sinners led to Farr-Jones changing his mind.

"I think there's a difference between free speech and sometimes that can go over the borderline into hate speech", Bishop Harvey said.

While Rugby Australia would be nervous about sponsors possibly walking away from the game over the Folau issue, Mitchell said the governing body's conviction to stand up for what it believes in will hold it in good stead.

'We will take this fight every inch of the way.

Some players have come out both in support and against Folau's sentiments since he published the post in April. "He's a very nice guy, he's very popular with the players", Phipps said. We've seen it many a time before - not just in rugby but in other codes - where some rules apply for some players and not others due to their impact on the game.

"We were having a feed. and at one point he just threw his hands gently up in the air and he said: "Alan, I don't know what this is about".

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