Israel Folau and Rugby Australia have finally reached a confidential settlement, including a written apology to each other over Israel Folau’s anti-gay religious views. Folau’s journey over the past 8 months has been filled with ups and downs.

Initially, the drama highlighted the hypocrisy of Folau, Rugby Australia and the media (https://thelevinelowdown.com/2019/04/20/israel-folau-the-revolving-door-of-hypocrisy/). Folau said that he would walk away from his contract if he ever felt he was hurting Rugby Australia. Clearly, he did not act on these words. Moreover, Rugby Australia created a huge deal over a relatively small issue, when players with severe criminal backgrounds had been previously allowed to play again. This hypocrisy posed the discussion between freedom of expression or discrimination. It blurred these lines, and this has led to the government debating new religious discrimination legislation.

Then, the decision was made to sack Israel Folau (https://thelevinelowdown.com/2019/05/17/israel-folau-sacked/). His lucrative four-year, 4-million-dollar contract was terminated by Rugby Australia due to Folau’s breach of his contract. Folau was confined by an agreement which limited his freedom of speech and resulted in him being sacked. However, this aspect of Folau’s journey raised the critical question of where is the line for other athletes? Could other athletes who post their views online also receive a similar punishment? This illustrates that individuals must be given the freedom to state what they believe and express their opinions on religion without censorship.  

Throughout the saga, Folau’s religious interpretation has also come under the microscope. He has created a divide within the religious and non-religious community through his skewed religious perspectives, causing further damage, especially to the communities currently affected by bushfires. Folau went on to increase his claim from $10 million to $14 million due to his belief that he lost the chance to captain the Australian side. These consistent negative instances have slowly dismantled Folau’s reputation and have caused further damage.

Regardless, now is the end of the road for Israel Folau. It is unlikely he will ever play professional rugby or rugby league in Australia, and due to his tarnished reputation, any international possibilities could be limited.

So what can we learn from this 8-month saga?

We need to start thinking about our religious discrimination legislation. Is it acceptable to express religious views online? Is it discriminatory? Personally, I believe individuals need to be able to express their opinion on religious matters. This is an essential aspect of freedom of speech, and it must not be taken away. However, laws need to be put in place to ensure inclusivity and that steps are being towards equality. Is this balance possible? I would hope so, but we will have to wait and see.

Israel Folau played a phenomenal game of rugby, however; the scores were even at the end of full time. Unfortunately, extra time was a disaster. Folau consistently dropped the ball, conceded penalties and deserted his team, resulting in the game being lost. This is the end of Israel Folau. Now it is time for Australia and Rugby Australia to regroup, start training again and proudly walk onto the field for the next game.

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9 thoughts on “The End of Israel Folau

  1. Under contract restraints, there is -literally- a price to pay. Warnings etc not heeded by Is, a high profile sportsperson looked up to, or even, dare we say, idolised, figure WILL be taken note of. Is is so confident he has g

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry, the WordPress patented ‘You-have- commented-enough, WordPress-will-post-now feature appears to have kicked in again! I was trying to finish off by saying, he is looked up to by many young fans who think his word must be right. Therefore, what he says has much more impact and import than most preachers, etc. He has contracted obligations to abide by, if he doesn’t, he has that choice, but that choice has financial impact on him. Free speech has obligations and parameters. Thanks for the drop by.

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    1. Yes I definitely agree that is has obligations and parameters, especially in his position which has great influence. It is the way that he utilises his influence which determines his reputation and success. In this case, instances of misguided actions has had detrimental impacts.

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  3. Hey,
    Some interesting points, I agree with alot of what you’ve said. I personally agree that there needs to be a balance – I value free speech very highly and do not think it was initially okay to fire him for expressing his views (although I do believe that his statements concerning both same-sex marriage etc. and the bushfires were largely ignorant). However, you have also brought to light that, as such a prominent figure in the community and in sport, with many people who would have looked up to him, he would likely be perceived as a representative and role model, which gives what he says so much more significance. For example, the fact that he stated that gay marriage is a sin, or that the bushfires are a result of sin, could be falsely perceived by the public as a representation of the beliefs of all Christians, and thus direct unnecessary anger towards Christians from people who disagree with his beliefs; people who initially looked up to him as a role model could also feel attacked, etc. I’m not really sure how to maintain this balance in cases like this – is there way the media etc. could separate Folau’s statements and convey that these beliefs are his own and not a representation of the beliefs of everyone, without having to fire him for exercising free speech?
    Anyways, great article!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! Yeah I agree with you that it is a very hard balance. With the increasing secularisation of society, the media is quick to attack any perspective regarding religious beliefs which could be considered as discriminatory towards particular people. I think a bit of common sense has to be used, but I do understand that often these types of messages can have long-lasting impacts on individuals. I think legislation needs to become more detailed in this area, but also education needs to be increased so that people can understand that someone may have a different perspective to you, but that different perspective doesn’t automatically mean that its discriminatory.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a good point – often I think we percieve someone’s differing opinion to be an attack when it’s really just a difference of opinion, which is okay – it’s never occured to me however that education could help us understand and learn to accept one other’s opinions better. It could be a good approach!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I think differing opinions and ideas are so much more common within society now than what they used to be, 5 or 10 years ago. Due to social media, people can share their thoughts freely, and without any constraint. In the past, there was only a few ways of sharing information so there were less ideas publically made. I think this is wehere education needs to catch-up and start recognising the need to consider all perspectives and how we can learn to accept other’s opinions and challenge opinions respectively.

        Liked by 1 person

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