Rugby Australia’s major sponsor has come under pressure to end its association with the Wallabies over player Israel Folau’s anti-gay comments.
Folau on Wednesday commented on social media that God’s plan for gay people was “hell… unless they repent of their sins”.
The fullback’s post caused outrage and has since been deleted.
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle and Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore are to meet with Folau to discuss his social media use, The Queensland Times has reported.
This is the second time Folau has caused upset with anti-gay comments on social media, after he last year announced his opposition to marriage equality.
“I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions but personally, I will not support gay marriage,” he tweeted during the marriage equality debate.
Castle said the matter would be treated seriously by Rugby Australia and NSW Rugby.
“We understand that Israel’s comment has upset a number of people and we will discuss the matter with him as soon as possible,” she said.
Rugby Australia rushed to distance itself from the remark, stating yesterday that “Folau’s personal beliefs do not reflect the views of Rugby Australia”.
“Rugby supports all kinds of inclusion, whether it’s sexuality, race or gender, which is set out in our inclusion policy,” said the governing body in a statement.
Social media users suggested Qantas, an organisation prominently in favour of LGBTI equality, reconsider its sponsorship of Rugby Australia and by association Folau.
Qantas also quickly distanced itself from Folau’s homophobic sentiment.
“As a sponsor of Rugby Australia, we’re supportive of their approach towards tolerance and inclusion, which aligns with our own,” said a spokesperson.
The airline is reportedly considering pulling its sponsorship if Folau makes further public homophobic remarks, according to The Australian.
“We’ve made clear to Rugby Australia that we find the comments very disappointing,” said a spokesperson.