Rugby Australia can sack star full-back Israel Folau after he was found guilty of committing a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct for his offensive Instagram post last month that included homophobic comments.
A high-level breach is the only category that can result in contract termination with RA, although Folau is yet to learn of his fate as the disciplinary panel will now deliberate whether or not to implement RA’s intention of dismissal, with no timeframe set on the punishment.
Folau faced a three-day hearing after posting his latest offensive comments on social media, having said on Instagram that “hell awaits” for “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators”.
The incident was the latest in a series of remarks that Folau made on social media based on his Christian beliefs, having previously claim that gay people will go to hell unless they repent for their sins.
Following the hearing that began on Saturday, an RA statement issued on Tuesday morning read: “The code of conduct hearing in the matter of Israel Folau has concluded in Sydney today.
“A panel of John West QC (Chair), Kate Eastman QC and John Boultee AM resided over the three-day hearing which commenced on 4 May.
“The panel has today provided a judgement that Israel Folau committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct with his social media posts on April 10, 2019.
“The panel will now take further written submissions from the parties to consider the matter of sanction.
“A further update will be provided after the panel delivers its decision on sanction.”
The incident has been one of the most divisive topics in rugby union this season, with a number of players supporting Folau either through their shared religious beliefs or their support for freedom of free speech, versus a number who have openly condemned him for publishing hate speech that rejects inclusivity within rugby union.
The matter spread to the other side of the world when Billy Vunipola, the Saracens and England forward, expressed his support for Folau with his own social media post, which resulted in formal warnings from club and country and finding himself being booed by opposition fans at each game he’s played in since.
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