Disgraced sports star Israel Folau – who says ‘hell awaits’ gay people – signs a new deal to play rugby in the UK

Israel Folau

Disgraced rugby player Israel Folau has been signed to a new club.

The player – who was sacked from the New South Wales Waratahs and Australia’s national team last year after claiming that “hell awaits” gay people – has signed a new deal to play for France-based RFL Super League team Catalans Dragons.

Of the 12 teams in the Super League, 10 are based in the UK – meaning the majority of Folau’s away matches will be on British soil.

The Rugby Football League has given the go-ahead for the signing, which the club says will give Folau an “opportunity to shine”.

Far from backing away from his anti-LGBT+ beliefs, Folau has repeatedly reasserted them in recent weeks – blaming the devil for transgender children and claiming that bushfires devastating Australia are “God’s judgment” for same-sex marriage.

Israel Folau will get ‘a new opportunity to shine on the pitch’.

But despite his extreme views, Catalans Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch handed him a one-year contract.

Guasch said: “We want to give Israel a new opportunity to shine on the pitch. We do not support or agree with Israel’s previously expressed and controversial views which are based upon his sincerely held religious belief.

“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.”

He claimed that any further anti-LGBT views from Folau would trigger an “immediate termination” of his contract – despite Folau’s public insistence that he would rather give up rugby than homophobia.

“We do not believe that those views should be publicly expressed, especially by a high-profile sports person”, Gausch said.

He added that per an agreement with the RFL, “any transgression [of conduct standards] will trigger an immediate termination of Israel’s contract and a substantial fine for the club.”

Folau said: “I’m a proud Christian, my beliefs are personal, my intention is not to hurt anyone and I will not be making further public comment about them.

“I look forward to my return to the great game of rugby league with the Catalans Dragons.”

Israel Folau was sacked from the New South Wales Waratahs for homophobic comments less than a year ago

Israel Folau was sacked from the New South Wales Waratahs for homophobic comments less than a year ago (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)

The signing has attracted anger within the rugby world, with the Wigan Warriors declaring the day of their match against the Dragons will be known as “Pride Day”.

Out ex-rugby star Keegan Hirst tweeted: “I’m shocked and disappointed at the signing of @IzzyFolau. Our great game is tasked with fighting against homophobia and standing up for the values it puts such high stock in. It shows none of the bravery, cameraderie or integrity @rfl expects from its players, staff and fans.”

Just weeks ago, rugby star blamed gay weddings for bushfires.

The player received an undisclosed settlement and an apology from Rugby Australia last month after taking legal action against his ex-employer over his sacking, claiming he had been discriminated against on the basis of religion.

Just weeks ago, Folau claimed the horrific Australian bushfires are “God’s judgement” for legalising gay marriage.

In a sermon, he claimed that the timing of the disaster was “no coincidence”.

“I’ve been looking around at the events that’s been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts,” he said.

“God’s word says for a man and a woman to be together, one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage,” he said, adding: “Abortion, it’s OK now to murder, kill infants, unborn children.”

He continued: “Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it’s a coincidence or not? God is speaking to you guys.

“Australia, you need to repent and take these laws and turn it back to what is right by God.”