Super League boss fumes at Israel Folau signing, rival club will meet him with LGBTQ pride day
Super League CEO Robert Elstone admits he’s disappointed by Catalans’ decision to sign Israel Folau but said legally there was little he could do to prevent it.
And a rival club has promised to meet Folau with an LGBTQ pride event to show their disgust at his homophobic views.
Folau’s infamous Instagram post in which he warned hell awaits homosexuals ended in his sacking by Rugby Australia (RA) last May.
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But the two sides announced a confidential settlement in December after the Federal Circuit Court ordered a mediation following Folau’s decision to sue RA for religious discrimination.
Former ARL chief Peter Beattie immediately closed the door on any possible NRL return but Elstone said there was no legal recourse for him to follow suit.
“Super League deplores the homophobic comments Israel Folau has made in the past, which squarely contradict our sport’s core values,” Elstone said.
“I have sought the opinion of informed voices connected to our game, and the majority share my disappointment that one of our clubs has chosen to sign him.
There is a strong feeling that the decision to sign him lets down many people connected to our sport.
“I made Catalans Dragons aware of those views.
“However, Super League does not have the authority to veto the registration of players and is satisfied by the due diligence carried out by The Rugby Football League.
“Israel Folau is a free agent, who has the right to work, and he has not been charged or found guilty of any criminal offence.
“Catalans Dragons has assured Super League that strict guidelines are in place to prevent the player from repeating his comments.
“They have also assured us that his contract will be terminated immediately should he do so.”
In the immediate wake of Folau’s signing, the Wigan Warriors announced they will host a pride event to celebrate LGBTQ people when they play Folau’s Dragons in Round 6.
A statement by the Rugby Football League echoed Elstone’s concerns but said it is the decision of clubs to decide who they sign.
“The RFL places a high value on the sport’s reputation in prioritising Inclusion and Diversity - and deplores the player’s previous comments,” the statement read.
“However, the moral responsibility for deciding whether to sign a player sits with individual clubs.
“The player has not been charged or found guilty of any criminal offence.
However distasteful his previous comments, we don’t believe that, under our current regulatory framework, these can prevent his participation in the sport.”
Catalans chairman Bernard Guasch said his club wanted to give Folau a “new opportunity” but do not share the player’s religious beliefs.
“We do not share or condone those views and we are totally committed to our club and our sport being open and welcoming to everyone,” Guasch said.
“We do not believe that those views should be publicly expressed, especially by a high-profile sports person. We have a signed agreement with the RFL.
“Any transgression will trigger an immediate termination of Israel’s contract and a substantial fine for the club.”
https://www.foxsports.com.au/nrl/super- ... b313436104
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