It looks like Australian rugby union star, Israel Folau, won’t be backing down from an anti-gay comment he made on Instagram.
On 2 April – Folau’s birthday – he said God’s plan for gay people was ‘HELL’ unless they repented for their sins.
The comment drew the ire of many who said he should lose his job and sponsorship deals.
But the devoutly Christian player tweeted a Bible verse yesterday which suggests he might see himself as a ‘persecuted prophet.
Folau posted the Matthew 5 verse and highlighted two sections of it.
‘Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake,’ Folau highlighted first.
‘Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.’
— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) April 8, 2018
He’s in trouble
The 29-year-old Folau plays for the local team the Waratahs and Australian national team, the Wallabies.
The heads of Rugby Australia (RA) and New South Wales Rugby are hauling him into a meeting on Tuesday morning.
Both organizations condemned Folau’s comments but haven’t made it clear what, if any, repercussions he might face.
‘Israel’s comment reflects his personal religious beliefs, however it does not represent the view of Rugby Australia or NSW Rugby,’ said RA CEO, Raelene Castle.
‘We are aligned in our view that rugby is a game for all, regardless of sexuality, race, religion or gender, which is clearly articulated in Rugby’s inclusion policy.’
The Wallabies major sponsor, Qantas Airways, also spoke out against his comments.
‘As a sponsor of Rugby Australia, we’re supportive of their approach towards tolerance and inclusion, which aligns with our own,’ a Qantas spokesperson told Fox Sports.
‘We’ve made it clear to Rugby Australia that we find the comments very disappointing.’
It is not the first time Folau has got himself into hot water with his controversial comments.
Last year, he made it clear he would vote ‘no’ to Australia’s postal survey vote about legalizing same-sex marriage.