Folau to take legal action after amateur rugby league club bid denied

by Reuters
Thursday, 27 May 2021 07:52 GMT

FILE PHOTO: Catalans Dragons' Israel Folau celebrates with James Maloney in the Rugby League Challenge Cup Sixth Round, Catalans Dragons v Wakefield Trinity at the John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield, Britain on August 22, 2020. Action Images/Jason Cairnduff

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Israel Folau is suing the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) after the governing body refused to let him play for an amateur club

MELBOURNE, May 27 (Reuters) - Israel Folau is taking legal action against the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) after the governing body refused his registration to play for an amateur club, Australian media reported on Thursday.

Dual code international Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia (RA) in 2019 for a social media post deemed disciminatory by the rugby union federation, will seek damages against the QRL and its board members, his lawyer said.

"We do not understand why Israel is being treated differently to any other player seeking registration in the QRL by placing conditions on him which have not been placed on any other player seeking registration from the Southport Tigers," Folau's lawyer Sam Iskander told Nine Network newspapers.

"We can only conclude it is because of his religious beliefs."

Fundamentalist Christian Folau had hoped to join his two brothers playing at Gold Coast club Southport.

The QRL said on Wednesday it could not register Folau because he had not provided confirmation of his contractual release from a previous team.

It also said Folau would only be registered to play at "community level and no higher" once they received his clearance.

Folau played a season for French side Catalan Dragons before quitting the Super League club last year and returning to Australia.

Iskander said Folau's "now repudiated contract" with Catalans had nothing to do with the QRL.

"The QRL is effectively seeking to destroy Israel's professional aspirations," he said.

The QRL declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Folau is being backed by Southport team patron and mining billionaire Clive Palmer, who said this week he would sue the QRL if it refused to let him play.

Folau had his Wallabies and Super Rugby deals terminated in 2019 after he posted a meme on social media that said hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers" and others.

He sued RA demanding A$14 million ($10.73 million) in compensation but the case was settled out of court with Folau receiving an undisclosed sum.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)