Israel Folau, the Australian national rugby player who was suspended for posting a Bible verse calling people to “repent,” has been found guilty of a “high level breach” of professional conduct.
Folau’s Rugby Australia contract was terminated in April, but he requested a hearing in light of the disciplinary action.
A three-person panel will not decide what punishment Israel is to face, according to the BBC. The stripping away of his right to play the game comes at a terrible time for the world-famous center, who was hoping to play for his country in the 2019 Rugby World Cup, due to take place later this year.
What does the Instagram post actually say?
The post, which is still live on Folau’s page, declares “WARNING,” before listing a number of sins which must be repented of, pending eternal judgment.
Referencing 1 Corinthians 6:9, the graphic lists “Drunks, homosexuals, drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters,” before imploring “HELL AWAITS YOU,” and “REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES.”
The actual post, which has been liked over 55,000 times, can be seen below:
Following Rugby Australia’s controversial decision, one of Folau’s main sportswear sponsors, Asics, dumped his contract.
“We champion inclusivity and diversity,” the company wrote in a statement.
“While Israel Folau is entitled to his personal views, some of those expressed in recent social media posts are not aligned with those of Asics. As such, our partnership with Israel has become untenable and he will no longer represent Asics as a brand ambassador.”
Car company Land Rover also ditched their sponsorship agreement with Folau.
Old coach jumps to Folau’s defense
Former Australia coach Alan Jones launched into an impassioned defense of Folau following news of the verdict, noting that the decision “prompts you to wonder what kind of society we’re living in.”
“The Australian people won’t accept this,” he added, according to MSN. “This is not the Australia our veterans fought for and we’re going to have to take our country back by argument and by the democratic and peaceful process — not by hate and revenge or vilification and intimidation.”
Jones noted that “if we’re not free to articulate our religious beliefs and quote from the Bible, and if we’re not free to speak for fear that someone affects a hurt or is part of the offence industry, if that’s where we’ve reached in this country, we’ve reached a dark place and we are all at risk.”
The former coach and broadcaster did note, however, that Folau appears to be in good form following the brutal decision
“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. “He said, ‘Alan, I’m at peace, mate. My head is held high.'”