Israel Folau has been signed by a new
team roughly eight months after he was fired over homophobic posts.
A devout Christian, Folau was
terminated last year by Rugby Australia after he refused to take down
a homophobic post warning gays that they will go to hell unless they
repent. In November, he
blamed same-sex marriage for brushfires in Australia.
star Israel Folau stands by homophobic comments.)
According to Sky
News, the Catalan Dragons, a rugby team based in France that
represents Catalonia, Spain, on Tuesday announced that they had
signed Folau to a one-year contract.
“I'm a proud Christian, my beliefs
are personal, my intention is not to hurt anyone and I will not be
making further public comment about them,” Folau said in a
statement released by the club. “I look forward to my return to the
great game of Rugby League with the Catalans Dragons.”
Catalans Dragons Chairman Bernard
Guasch said that the club does not agree with Folau's controversial
“We want to give Israel a new
opportunity to shine on the pitch,” Guasch said. “We do not
support or agree with Israel’s previously expressed and
controversial views which are based upon his sincerely held religious
belief. We do not share or condone those views and we are totally
committed to our club and our sport being open and welcoming to
everyone. We do not believe that those views should be publicly
expressed, especially by a high-profile sports person. We have a
signed agreement with the RFL. Any transgression will trigger an
immediate termination of Israel’s contract and a substantial fine
for the club.”
British rugby player Keegan Hirst, who
came out gay in 2015, wrote in a tweet that he was “disappointed”
by the signing.
Out Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas also
criticized the move, vowing not to watch Folau play.
“All I hope is that as much as Folau
wanted his right to speak, then players and fans alike are [allowed]
their right to respond. I will never watch him,” Thomas tweeted.
Thomas: I have HIV, but HIV does not have me.)