Jazzy Jan Posted April 12, 2019 Share Posted April 12, 2019 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-11/peter-fitzsimons-responds-to-israel-folaus/10995330 Peter FitzSimons responds to Israel Folau's controversial social media post Former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons says Israel Folau has to accept the consequences of his actions, after a highly controversial social media post by Folau condemned gays, atheists and drunks to hell. LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Once upon a time sporting heroes were mainly judged by their heroics on the field but not in today's era of social media. Rugby Australia has today sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau over this Instagram post declaring that gay people and a long list of other "sinners" would burn in hell. It's not the first time the devout Christian has sparked offence by publicly sharing his religious beliefs but this time he put Rugby Australia's major sponsor, Qantas, offside - right in the middle of negotiations for a new sponsorship deal. A short time ago I spoke with former Wallaby, columnist and author, Peter FitzSimons. Peter FitzSimons, the views that Mr Folau is espousing are consistent with the beliefs of evangelical Christians, conservative Catholics, of whom there are many in Australia. Their perspective would be that he has a free speech right to proclaim his views. What do you say to that? PETER FITZSIMONS, FORMER WALLABIES PLAYER: Of course, he has freedom of speech but there's also freedom of reaction and there's no freedom from consequences and the sober reality is that last year, when this exact same issue came up, Australian Rugby Union was overwhelmed for three weeks of people cancelling memberships, people not turning up to games, sponsors getting edgy to leave the building. Folau was sat down, counselled, I believe it was put in his contract saying "Look, rugby is an inclusive game, we want all people to play. We can't have somebody like you saying that one section of the community is going to burn in hell." So when he did it, when it happened last year, it was, I mean rugby in this country is on its knees. It's in bad shape and so when your most high-profile, highly paid player does something like that, there was hell to pay in Australian Rugby. But Folau last year could have said, "Look, I wasn't aware of you know, what the policy or what the consequences were." This year, when he wrote that thing and put it on yesterday, that was a resignation letter. You should see the emails, the tweets and phone calls, the texts and people writing to the ARU saying, "You hear me and you hear me well. If you don't take action against this guy I won't take my children to the games, I'll burn up my membership card." It is just overwhelming and there's just about nobody supporting him. Of course, freedom of speech but not freedom from consequences. LEIGH SALES: What impact would a team missing Israel Folau have on Australia's hopes in the World Cup? PETER FITZSIMONS: Devastating, no doubt about it. He's a fantastic player. I mean not just a good player, in fact he is not just a fantastic player. He's one out of the box. When Folau hit rugby I think, 2013, 2014, when he first hit the line, it was like a man among boys. He was that good, that fast, that strong. But there are more important things than winning the World Cup. When you put that kind of stuff in the public domain, when you've got teen suicide rates of troubled teens troubled about their sexuality, there is a case to answer to say you can do that but not be a part of rugby. We're not going to put you in a jersey, we're not going to put you on the posters, we're not going to pay you a million or $2 when you're trashing everything we stand for. From the moment he put that up, it was the end. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.