The true price of Folau saga
REACTION: The true cost the Israel Folau saga will be felt in not just monetary value, but also the emotional scars it is going to leave on rugby.
Apart from the emotional toll on him personally, Israel Folau could be taking a heavy financial hit as he fights to save his career.
However, the fallout of Rugby Australia’s decision to go after the devoutly Christian player became apparent on Wednesday.
Also read: Folau is ‘guilty’
Former Wallaby coach Alan Jones slammed the treatment of Folau, calling those punishing him over his comments on social media “sick”.
And polemical Aussie boxer Anthony Mundine also waded into the saga, claiming the dumped utility back was a victim of “racism”.
The devoutly Christian player on Tuesday was found guilty of a “high-level” breach of the sport’s code of conduct, as a result of his social media posts.
He faces his lucrative four-year contract being terminated, with the three-person code of conduct panel taking written submissions from his legal team and Rugby Australia before deciding on his punishment.
The governing body moved to sack him after he posted a banner on Instagram last month that read: “Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators – Hell awaits you.”
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Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him. _______________ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 KJV _______________ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38 KJV _______________ And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Acts 17:30 KJV _______________
Jones, who coached the Wallabies during a golden era in the late 1980s, has been a frequent critic of Rugby Australia and one of the staunchest defenders of Folau’s right to free speech.
Now an influential and outspoken radio broadcaster, known for his conservative views, he relayed a message he said he had received from Folau.
“I’ve just had a note from Israel, he won’t mind if I’m sharing it with you, because I said to him: ‘Hold your head up’,” Jones said on his morning programme.
“He said: ‘Alan, I’m at peace, mate. My head is held high’.”
Folau’s case has proved complex and divisive, pitting his right to free speech against the offence he has caused others and damage to rugby’s reputation.
It has split opinion with several Pacific Island-origin players supporting him, while others, including within the Wallabies camp, have been critical.
Jones has previously railed against free speech being “completely corrupted” in Australia and he let rip again Tuesday.
“Nothing wrong with Israel, it’s the society and those who prosecute him who are sick,” he said.
Jones added that he was “ashamed” of the sport he loves and that “the battle has just begun”.
“Israel Folau, with my support and the support of millions of Australians, will take this fight every inch of the way,” he said.
“Rugby union preaches diversity – they really mean uniformity. They preach inclusion but they exclude Israel.”
Folau says he’s at peace as he weighs up the potentially crippling cost of his bitter legal battle with Rugby Australia.
But with insiders estimating Folau would have already paid out in excess of AU$100,000 on legal representation for his landmark code of conduct hearing, the three-times John Eales Medallist may at some point ask himself if it is all worth it.
It’s been suggested Folau would be spending AU$25,000 a week on solicitor fees, even before stepping inside a hearing room.
Should he be sacked, then lose an appeal and take the matter to court, the financial cost to Folau could be astronomical.
The best the 73-Test veteran can hope for is leniency from the panel and a suspension and/or fine.
Regardless of the sanction, which is not expected to be handed down for several days, Folau is said to be handling the threat of termination with dignity.
Jones, for one, is urging Folau to “take this fight every inch of the way”.
“This will go as far as the High Court if it has to go there,” he said.
“The battle has just begun.”
Mundine made no secret of the fact that he regards RA’s actions as ‘racist’.
A fired-up Mundine claimed the real issue wasn’t the post itself, but the public’s reaction to who shared it.
“People are missing the point here, it’s not about the Bible or the Biblical quote that Izzy put up, it’s a black man expressing it,” Mundine, a devout Muslim, told Channel 7 on Wednesday.
“If it was about the biblical quote then why don’t they push to ban that.
“I commend Izzy for sticking up and facing such racism and being persecuted and not having the right to make a living. There have been guys out there [that have] been done for drugs, assaults – yet he [Folau] can’t express his mind?
“People are missing the whole point, it’s about racism.”
Mundine went into bat for the 30-year-old Wallaby, who he says he knows personally, and praised him for sticking to his beliefs.
“I know Izzy. He’s a very polite, generous, humble brother but he’s sticking by his beliefs,” Mundine said.
“That’s something I would say to everyone, which is stick by your beliefs.”
Folau’s playing fate rests in the hands of John West, Rugby Australia representative Kate Eastman and the RUPA-appointed John Boultbee.
The code of conduct panel could decide to fire Folau, or issue fines or suspensions.
No timescale was given for its decision, with legal experts warning that whatever happens an appeal is likely, potentially followed by a drawn-out court battle.
Sources: news.com.au, AAP & AFP