Australian Rugby player Israel Folau says Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle misrepresented his views following a meeting with officials last week to discuss his social media comments on gay people.
“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 post for website Players Voice.
“They explained their position and talked about external pressure from the media, sponsors and different parts of the community, which I understand.”
Folau says he told Castle “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”.
But when he went home and turned on the TV after the meeting, he “was really disappointed with some of the things that were said in the press conference”.
Folau sparked outrage over online comments when he said it was his belief that it was his God’s plan for gay people to go to “Hell, unless they repent their sins and turn to God”.
Despite widespread criticism from within the code, sponsors and the public, Folau continues to stand by his comments saying that they are: “from the heart”.
Speaking with reporters at a press conference, Folau explained:
“I was asked a question by somebody about what God’s plan is for gay people.
“My response to the question is what I believe God’s plan is for all sinners, according to my understanding of my Bible teachings, specifically 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10, ‘Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor the drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God’.
“I do not know the person who asked the question, but that didn’t matter. I believed he was looking for guidance and I answered him honestly and from the heart.
“I know a lot of people will find that difficult to understand, but I believe the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear.”