Super League Release Statement Following Dragons’ Signing Of Folau As Rival Club Trolls Them
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The Rugby Football League (RFL) have released a statement after Super League side Catalans Dragons announced the controversial signing of former Wallabies fullback Israel Folau on a one-year deal.
Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia last year following homophobic comments on social media and later brought the governing body to court before settling outside of it a multi-million dollar payout.
He was banned from returning to Rugby League in Australia but the RFL have decided against blocking a move by the Dragons and released the following statement to explain their decision:
“RFL confirms that the registration of Israel Folau with the Catalans Dragons will not be prevented.
“This is a difficult decision, as the RFL places a high value on the sport’s reputation in prioritising Inclusion and Diversity – and deplores the player’s previous comments.
“However the moral responsibility for deciding whether to sign a player sits with individual clubs.
“The player has not been charged or found guilty of any criminal offence.
“However distasteful his previous comments, we don’t believe that, under our current regulatory framework, these can prevent his participation in the sport.
“We have sought and received reassurances from both the player and the club regarding future behaviour.
“The RFL has taken and will continue to take action where any player breaches expected standards of behaviour while registered with a club, and comments that conflict with our commitment to Inclusion and Diversity across the game will not be tolerated.”
Super League executive chairman Robert Elsonte said there is a “strong feeling” that the Dragons’ decision to sign the disgraced fullback has let down many people connected to the sport.
“Super League deplores the homophobic comments Israel Folau has made in the past, which squarely contradict our sport’s core values.
“I have sought the opinion of informed voices connected to our game, and the majority share my disappointment that one of our clubs has chosen to sign him.
“There is a strong feeling that the decision to sign him lets down many people connected to our sport.
“I made Catalans Dragons aware of those views.
“However, Super League does not have the authority to veto the registration of players and is satisfied by the due diligence carried out by The Rugby Football League.
“Israel Folau is a free agent, who has the right to work, and he has not been charged or found guilty of any criminal offence.
“Catalans Dragons has assured Super League that strict guidelines are in place to prevent the player from repeating his comments.
“They have also assured us that his contract will be terminated immediately should he do so.”
Shortly after the move was made public, Super League rivals Wigan Warriors announced that their round six game against the Dragons on Sunday 22nd March will now be Pride Day, as the Warriors look to support the LGBTQ+ community.
The game against the Dragons will see the Club’s players wear Rainbow socks, provided by kit suppliers hummel, and the players will wear Rainbow Laces for the game with the Club also inviting LGBTQ+ groups, both locally and nationally, to be part of the day.
Learn more 👇https://t.co/nvxK1VHHq1
— Wigan Warriors 🍒⚪️ (@WiganWarriorsRL) January 28, 2020