Israel Folau reaches settlement with Rugby Australia

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Israel Folau
Rugby Australia sacked Folau for making anti-gay comments

Rugby player Israel Folau has reached a settlement with Rugby Australia (RA) over his controversial sacking for writing anti-gay posts on social media.

The former Wallabies star had been suing RA for A$14m (£7.4m; $9.5m) after having his contract terminated in May.

Folau, a Christian, argued that the termination of his contract was a case of religious discrimination.

The parties had settled for a confidential amount, according to a joint statement on Wednesday.

Folau was sacked for saying “hell awaits” gay people, after previously being warned over his social media posts.

What did the two sides say?

In a statement from both parties, the 30-year-old full-back said he had not intended to harm or offend people when he uploaded the post.

“Mr Folau wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality,” the statement read.

RA said it did not “in any way” agree with the content of the post, adding inclusivity was “core” to the sport.

Both parties apologised for “any hurt or harm caused”.

The settlement is an abrupt conclusion to a months-long dispute. Just last week, Folau had upped his demands for compensation.

Previously one of the nation’s highest-paid athletes, he had sought both monetary compensation and a return to the national side.

The terms of the settlement have not been revealed. It is unknown if Folau will return to the Wallabies.

How significant was this fight?

The row had been closely followed in Australia, where it sparked national debate about free speech and discrimination.

Experts had suggested that the court case – if it had gone ahead – could have set a legal precedent for religious expression in Australian workplaces.

Folau had been widely supported by Christian lobby groups, but he has also been widely condemned for his anti-gay and anti-transgender comments.

Media captionThe Australian Christian Lobby has organised fundraisers for Folau

Folau raised over A$2m in a crowd-funding campaign in June, saying donations had come from “tens of thousands of Australians”.

An earlier fundraiser was shut down after the host platform, GoFundMe, said Folau’s cause promoted discrimination.

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