Disgraced sports star Israel Folau reaches settlement with Rugby Australia after sacking for homophobic rants

Israel Folau

Rugby Australia has issued an apology for “any harm caused” to disgraced rugby star Israel Folau as part a settlement over his sacking for anti-gay comments.

The former Australian rugby star reached an undisclosed settlement with Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs on Wednesday, bringing to an end his $14 million wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

Folau was sacked after warning gay people that “hell awaits” them on social media, and has since doubled down on his anti-LGBT beliefs, claiming that bushfires devastating Australia are “God’s judgment” for same-sex marriage.

Announcing the settlement, Rugby Australia apologised to Folau for “harm caused” – while the rugby star opted to apologise for any harm “to the game of rugby” without addressing the impact of his comments on young LGBT+ people.

Settlement claims Israel Folau ‘did not intend to offend people’

A statement said: “Rugby Australia, NSW Rugby and Israel Folau have today settled their legal dispute following the dismissal of Israel Folau after he posted a religious message on social media.

“The social media post reflected Mr Folau’s genuinely held religious beliefs, and Mr Folau did not intend to harm or offend any person when he uploaded the social media post.

“Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality and that he shares Rugby Australia’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity.”

Israel Folau departs his conciliation meeting with Rugby Australia at Fair Work Commission on June 28, 2019 in Sydney.

Israel Folau departs his conciliation meeting with Rugby Australia at Fair Work Commission on June 28, 2019 in Sydney. (Mark Metcalfe/Getty)

It adds: “Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby do not in any way agree with the content of the social media post. Inclusiveness is one of Rugby’s core values and it welcomes all people to the game, including all members of the LGBTI community.

“While it was not Rugby Australia’s intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus. Similarly, Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused.

“Rugby Australia and Mr Folau wish each other well for the future.”

Undisclosed settlement terms to remain ‘confidential’

It is unclear if Folau has received a payment from Rugby Australia as part of the settlement.

The statement makes clear: “The parties do not intend to comment further on the terms of their settlement as it is confidential.”

Folau has landed on his feet in the wake of the row, becoming a cause célèbre of Australia’s evangelical anti-LGBT lobby.

He has also found a new job playing rugby for Tonga, where it’s illegal to be gay.