Israel Folau wants “the truth” to be upheld in his mediation with Rugby Australia (RA), but his former employer insists it did the right thing sacking him.
The sacked Wallaby and his netballer wife Maria Folau, wearing a red power suit, went to the Federal Court in Melbourne on Monday for a mediation meeting over his $14 million compensation claim against Rugby Australia.
Folau claims he was wrongfully dismissed by Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW after a controversial Instagram post in April condemning “drunks” and “homosexuals” and warning “hell awaits” them.
“Israel admitted he had caused harm with his comments and stated that he would not curb his social media use and will post whatever he likes whenever he feels the need to share his views,” Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle told reporters outside court on Monday.
The former rugby league and AFL player last week increased his compensation claim from $10 million to $14 million, and said the Wallabies would have done better in the 2019 Rugby World Cup if he was playing.
“I understand that not everyone shares my faith and some find it difficult to reconcile with their own beliefs,” Folau said in a video posted on his website before the meeting.
“I want to be clear that I only share passages from the Bible as a gesture of love.
“We pray that we might all find redemption and peace in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ as we head to today’s mediation, we also ask that he watches over us, so that both parties might realise the courage to uphold the truth.”
Folau arrived with wife Maria by his side.Source:News Corp Australia
Maria Folau is also deeply religious.Source:News Corp Australia
But Castle said she had been sent messages and emails from the rugby community supporting the decision to sack Folau.
“It is these messages from members of our community and the wider sports community that leaves us in no doubt that we are doing what’s right,” she said.
“Israel’s commentary subsequent to his termination has only reinforced this belief,” she told reporters outside court in Melbourne.”
Castle said a tribunal found Folau had committed a high level breach of his contract and he had refused to curb his social media use.
“Rugby Australia is confident in its legal position but we come here today with a genuine desire to find a settlement that is sensible and reasonable so that we can return all our focus and resources to growing the game of rugby across Australia,” she said.
A small group of supporters greeted Folau upon his arrival to court, some holding signs with messages indicating they were on his side. Folau formed a circle and said a prayer with some of his backers.
Folau joined in prayer with supporters at Federal court in Melbourne.Source:News Corp Australia
Folau was feeling the love.Source:News Corp Australia
Maria was enjoying the support on show for her husband.Source:News Corp Australia
RA is standing by its decision to sack Folau.Source:News Corp Australia
Folau is a hardline Christian who also recently claimed fatal bushfires were God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same-sex marriage, sparking criticism from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
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