A powerful new voice has come out in support of firing Australian rugby union star player, Israel Folau.
Scott Johnson is the new director of rugby at Australian Rugby Union (ARU), the governing body of rugby there. He previously coached the Scottish national side.
Johnson said Folau should have his contract terminated after several homophobic posts on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.
A devout Christian, Folau posted ‘hell awaits’ homosexual who should ‘repent’ for their sins earlier this month.
He also posted similar messages last year and received warnings from ARU and the state body, New South Wales Rugby. The two governing bodies warned him they would fire him if he repeated the homophobic posts on social media.
A few days after his most recent posts, ARU and NSW Rugby terminated his multi-million dollar contract. But Folau has appealed the decision and will fight for his career at a hearing on 4 May.
Johnson agreed that Folau should not be allowed to play on.
‘Israel’s got a chance to put his case forward with the tribunal this week. I want to make it really clear – I’m very supportive of where Rugby Australia is in this stance,’ Johnson told media this week.
‘What I stand for is we want a game that includes everyone.’
Johnson credited his close friendship with openly gay former player, Gareth Thomas. The Welsh national player came out to Johnson, before coming out publicly in 2009.
Thomas came out to Johnson in a change room after a game, even though Johnson was coaching an opposing team at the time.
‘This is what I love about the sport – I love that I’m now coaching his opposition and I get called into his change room because he only wanted to talk to me,’ Johnson said.
‘And I spent the next 24 hours offsite in the opposition’s hotel talking to his teammates because he couldn’t.
‘I was very privileged and honoured to be there as the person that Gareth Thomas needed to talk to about his sexuality.’