Rugby Player Israel Folau Refuses To Take A Knee In Support Of Black Lives Matter
Catalans Dragons rugby player Israel Folau has sparked controversy after refusing to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Catalans Dragons took on St Helens at Headingley Stadium on Sunday, August 2, marking the resumption of Super League following the coronavirus outbreak.
The teams decided to honour the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement by taking a moment to kneel before kick-off, but while the 25 other players and the referee knelt, Folau chose to stand.
Folau’s decision was met with backlash on social media, with some questioning why he refused to take part in the simple gesture, while others speculated it may be something to do with his religion.
One Twitter user wrote:
Israel Folau is well within his rights to refuse to kneel in support of Black Lives Matter.
And in return I am allowed to question the moral character of a man who refuses to make the merest gesture in support of the BAME community in the face of systemic racism.
Following the move, Catalans coach Steve McNamara defended the player and argued he was entitled to make a personal choice on the matter.
As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in depth and as a club we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity.
But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee.
That was based on personal choice, they have their own reasons for doing that, and we decided we would respect anyone’s personal choice on the matter.
Folau has been a source of controversy in the past for making homophobic comments that included him claiming ‘hell awaits’ gay people.
The player was sacked from his four-year £2 million Rugby Australia contract as a result of his actions in May 2019, and he consequently missed out on Australia’s World Cup campaign in Japan.
Commenting on the decision, per The Independent, Rugby Australia Chief Executive Raelene Castle said:
While Rugby Australia accepts the panel’s decision directing termination of Israel Folau’s playing contract for his high-level breach of the Code of Conduct, we want to stress that this outcome is a painful situation for the game.
Folau returned to ruby league and agreed to play for Catalans until at least the end of 2021, after they elected to offer him a contract.
Many social media users argued the player’s latest controversial action ‘confirmed’ he is a bad person. Folau does not appear to have publicly commented on the matter.
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