Sports

Folau escapes sanction over anti-gay remarks but sponsors showdown looms

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In their eyes, there has been a major backflip.

It is understood RA told its major corporate partners last week it was going to take action against Folau over his claim in an Instagram comment that gay people were going to “hell unless they repent of their sins”.

"I believe the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear": Israel Folau

Photo: AAP

On Tuesday morning, some sponsors told Fairfax Media they believed Folau was about to be breached at any moment. Instead, the opposite has happened.

Castle and RA have been under enormous pressure from Folaus closest allies, not least influential broadcaster Alan Jones, to allow him to say what he wants because of his religious beliefs.

The decision not to breach Folau is sure to bring Castle's position into question after Folau was highly critical of her in his Players' Voice column.

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“After wed all talked, I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldnt be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately," Folau wrote. “At no stage over the past two weeks have I wanted that to happen.

“I felt Raelene misrepresented my position and my comments. And did so to appease other people, which is an issue I need to discuss with her and others at Rugby Australia.

“When I spoke to Raelene about walking away, it was to help the game, not harm it, in the event we couldnt come to an understanding.

“I used to believe I was defined by my actions on the footy field, but I see now thats not true.

“During the meeting I told them it was never my intention to hurt anyone with the Instagram comment, but that I could never shy away from who I am, or what I believe. They explained their position and talked about external pressure from the media, sponsors and different parts of the community, which I understand."

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Andrew Webster

Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald

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