Perennial “victim” Israel Folau is suing the Queensland Rugby League claiming he is again being persecuted for his religious beliefs.
However, the real reason the QRL is refusing to register Folau to play in the local competition has nothing to do with discrimination.
Instead, it has to with Folau once again failing to comply with his existing employment contract.
Folau claims discrimination
Folau recently announced his intention to play for the Southport Tigers on the Gold Coast.
However, the QRL was quick to refuse to register the controversial homophobic sportsman.
Folau’s lawyer Sam Iskander immediately cried persecution – accusing the league of religious discrimination.
“All Israel Folau wants to do is play football and be treated like any other person,” Mr Iskander said in a statement.
“The QRL is treating his application for registration differently to anyone else who has sought registration for the Southport Tigers.
“The QRL has no right to discriminate against a player or seek to disadvantage such a player.”
Iskander said Folau has commenced legal action against the QRL.
But, as it turns out, the QRL is refusing Folau’s registration because he is currently contracted to another club and another league.
Folau abandons club and contract
After settling his discrimination case with Rugby Australia, English Super League club Catalans Dragons signed Folau to a two year contract in 2020.
The club received widespread criticism for its decision, and now claims Folau has stiffed them too.
The Dragons granted Folau compassionate leave at the end of last year due to a family member’s illness.
They expected him to return to the club during the 2021 Super League season.
However, Folau failed to do so, instead announcing his decision to play rugby league back in Australia.
The decision blindsided the Catalans Dragons, who now want financial compensation in return for his contractual release.
Football manager Alex Chan told Fairfax Media:
“If he doesn’t intend on coming back and wants to play somewhere else, we’ll sit at the table and negotiate a clearance fee.
“The sad thing for us is we took a chance when nobody else would, we copped a heap from all angles, and we lost credit here and in the UK.”
What did they expect?
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says the Catalans Dragons knew the character of the player before they signed him up.
“Folau appears to be nothing more than a greedy, homophobic bigot who previously ran afoul with Rugby Australia’s code of conduct,” he said.
“He started a Go-Fund-Me page to raise funds to pay his lawyers, despite being a multi-millionaire.
“And now, the Catalans say they’re surprised he’s walked out on his employment contract with them – really!
“After welching on his deal with the Catalans, Folau returns to his old playbook – claiming to be the victim.”
Mr Heffernan says Folau’s claim of religious discrimination is laughable.
“The QRL is following its existing policies and procedures, and any suggestion the league is treating Folau differently on the basis of religious belief is ridiculous and without factual basis,” he said.
Release of contract
The QRL says it won’t register Folau until the Catalans officially release him from their contract.
In a statement, the league said:
“The QRL has not received confirmation that Folau is released from his existing playing contract, nor has he received a clearance from his last known registered overseas club.
“The QRL cannot proceed with any registration approval until such time as the clearance is received – this is in accordance with current national policy regarding international clearances playing at any level of the game.”
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