Israel Folau’s four-year $4 million contract was torn up.

Israel Folau’s four-year $4 million contract was torn up.Source:Getty Images

nine

18 May 2019


Sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau has made his first response after his termination was made official by Rugby Australia on Friday afternoon.

After Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle notified the media that Folau’s four-year, $4 million deal would be torn up, Folau took to the very medium that landed him in hot water in the first place: his Instagram account.

Folau posted a passage from the Bible, the Matthew 6:33 verse which reads, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

The exiled Wallabies star also released a statement in which he admitted that he was saddened by the decision.

“It has been a privilege and an honour to represent Australia and my home state of NSW, playing the game I love,” he said.

“I am deeply saddened by today’s decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.”

Folau believes he should be allowed to play on after taking to Instagram last month to proclaim “hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters”.

 

“As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression,” he said on Friday.

“The Christian faith has always been a part of my life an I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s word.

“Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country.

“I would like to thank my wife Maria for her love and encouragement to true to our beliefs.

“We have been humbled by the support we have received from family, friends, players, fans and the wider community.

“Thank you also to those who have spoken out in my defence, some of whom do not share my beliefs but have defended my right to express them.”

Folau’s sparkling 62-Test career for the Wallabies appears to be over (AAP)

Speaking to the media on Friday afternoon, Castle admitted that the outcome was a “painful” situation for the game.

“Rugby Australia did not choose to be in this situation, but Rugby Australia’s position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue this course of action,” she said.

“This has been an extremely challenging period for Rugby and this issue has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team.

“But our clear message to all Rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork.

Raelene Castle said an appear or court proceedings wouldn’t crush Rugby in Australia.

Raelene Castle said an appear or court proceedings wouldn’t crush Rugby in Australia.Source:Supplied

While Folau may yet appeal his contract termination or choose to take the fight straight to the Supreme Court in a bid to rescue a chunk of the $[Aus]4 million he has now lost, Castle said a reported $1 million peace offering was never seriously on the table.

“I think in any of these situations the lawyers have sensible and pragmatic conversations to see if they can find a way whereby we don’t end up in this situation; or we find a way as you would with any high-profile contract of any high-profile employee that was in this situation, the lawyers would have a sensible and pragmatic conversation,” she said.

“Israel is a great Rugby player and we are disappointed and saddened by the fact that he will not see out his four-year commitment to the Wallabies and Waratahs.”

Rugby Australia arrived at its decision on Friday after the 30-year-old reportedly turned down an offer to compromise which would have seen him charged with a lower level breach if he deleted his original Instagram post.

The ongoing saga is likely to have severe financial ramifications for the already cash-strapped RA, while the Wallabies need to find a way to put the drama behind them, with the World Cup just four months away.

The 30-year-old, who has played 62 Tests for the Wallabies, reportedly remains firm in his belief that he’s being religiously persecuted, hence his expected move to launch court action.

Israel Folau is looking at hitting back at Rugby Australia’s termination but the tax man is set to provide an obstacle for the 30-year-old’s legal hopes.

The Australian Taxation Office will monitor donations given to Israel Folau’s church in a bid to ensure the money isn’t used to fund his expected legal challenge against Rugby Australia’s termination of his $4 million contract.

Folau’s backers were looking to financially assist the fallen Wallabies star if he took Rugby Australia to the Supreme or Federal Court in a bid to overturn his axing.

But the ATO has told revealed to The Sunday Telegraph they will be monitoring donations to the former star with reports it could be funnelled through his church The Truth Of Jesus Christ Church, in Kenthurst, in order to get a tax deduction.

Reports suggest Folau’s legal costs could be upwards of $1 million.

With Rugby Australia in a precarious financial position, reports over the past few weeks have seen the sport facing a $12 million hit pushing the code to the brink of collapse in Australia.

RA would face “financial ruin” if it is forced to face a projected $8 million loss and pay out the full $4 million owed to Folau in his long-term contract should the former Wallaby be successful in court.

According to reports, the legal fees and costs associated with fighting Folau in a conduct hearing and expected follow-up legal challenges through the courts will also cost RA at least $100,000.

A full $12 million hit would leave RA “on the precipice of insolvency,” according to The Daily Telegraph’s Jamie Pandaram.

Folau hit back after his $4 million four-year contract was torn up last night, setting in motion the inevitable challenge to the termination.

 

Folau appears to be launching his appeal.

 

Originally published as Folau appeal takes first major hit

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