FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union – Australia vs Scotland – Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia – June 17, 2017 – Australia’s Israel Folau jumps to catch the ball and score a try above Scotland’s Greig Tonks. REUTERS/David Gray
(Reuters) – Israel Folau offered to walk away from his Rugby Australia (RA) contract if his anti-gay comments were deemed to be damaging the sport, the Wallabies back wrote in a column published on Monday.
Folau, an Evangelical Christian, wrote on his Instagram page earlier this month that gays would be condemned to “hell” if they failed to “repent”, sparking outrage on social media and criticism from a key sponsor.
Folau wrote that he gave RA chief executive Raelene Castle and Andrew Hore, the CEO of Folau’s Super Rugby team New South Wales Waratahs, the option to sack him when they had a meeting last week.
“During the meeting I told them it was never my intention to hurt anyone with the Instagram comment, but that I could never shy away from who I am, or what I believe,” Folau wrote in a column for the PlayersVoice website.
“After we’d all talked, I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately.”
The 29-year-old, whose RA contract expires at the end of the season, clarified he was not looking to force a move away from Australian rugby having received offers to play in Britain, Europe and Japan.
“This is not about money or bargaining power or contracts,” Folau added.
“It’s about what I believe in and never compromising that, because my faith is far more important to me than my career and always will be.”
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)
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