UK rugby star Gareth Thomas has said
that Israel Folau has risked damaging Australia's team spirit with
his homophobic comments.
Folau, who plays for the Wallabies, has
defended anti-gay remarks he made on Instagram.
The 29-year-old Folau, a devout
Christian who regularly posts religious messages, posted a meme last
month on Instagram about God's plan. When a follower asked, “What
was God's plan for gay people?” Folau replied: “HELL.. Unless
they repent of their sins and turn to God.”
Folau has since deleted the comment.
Folau later said that he was only
speaking “from the heart.”
Speaking with Sky Sports,
Thomas, who came out publicly as gay in 2009, said that the
controversy surrounding Folau's remarks could hurt the sport.
“We're in a really difficult position
here, and the one to blame for all the difficulty is Israel Folau,
for actually sending the message out,” Thomas
said. “He's put a lot of people in awkward situations. What's
happening now is that [coach Michael] Cheika is having to almost
distance himself from a player. You’ve had businesses and companies
wanting to disassociate with the team.”
“I think what Cheika’s probably
trying to do is redress the balance and bring it back to an equal, by
being negative towards him. He [Folau] was negative towards a whole
community of millions and millions of people.”
Thomas added that for him “one man
never makes a team” and “one man can sometimes be a weak link.”
Thomas says he “scrubbed” himself clean after the first time he
had gay sex.)