A major sponsor of Israel Folau has dropped out in the wake of the Wallabies star’s controversial social media posts.
- Sportswear company ASICS — which also sponsors the Wallabies — pulls out as a sponsor of embattled Israel Folau
- Former Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones comes to Folau’s defence, saying the player was never instructed properly on his social media posts
- Alan Jones, who coached the Wallabies in the 1980s, urges Folau to keep fighting
Rugby Australia confirmed a verdict on Folau’s “high-level breach” over his Instagram posts would not be handed down before next week.
Folau’s Instagram post proclaimed hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters”, which saw a conduct breach notice levelled against the fullback, resulting in the hearing over his future.
But the controversy surrounding Folau has proved too much for sportswear company ASICS, which has severed sponsorship ties with the player.
“ASICS is dedicated to sport and its healthy contribution to society,” the company said in a statement on its Facebook page.
“We believe sport is for everyone and we champion inclusivity and diversity.
“While Israel Folau is entitled to his personal views, some of those expressed in recent social media posts are not aligned with those of ASICS. As such, our partnership with Israel has become untenable and he will no longer represent ASICS as a brand ambassador.”
ASICS is also a major sponsor of the Wallabies.
But former Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones has come to Folau’s defence, saying he has changed his mind about the star player after meeting with him personally.
“When I first met with him … I was going to encourage him to say ‘look, I apologise. I won’t do it again and can I have another chance’,” Farr-Jones said.
“He doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong.
“I did originally [think he should apologise] had he been told don’t do this again — don’t mention the word hell, for example, awaits these various groups of people.
“But he’s saying he was never instructed that way.
“He does it, I promise you, in a loving way, wanting to seek change in people. I know a lot of people don’t get it.”
Alan Jones urges Folau to keep fighting
Former Wallabies coach Alan Jones, who has also spoken to Folau, said on 2GB radio that the player should “take this fight every inch of the way”.
“We sat down the other day and had a long yarn. In many ways it was very, very sad,” Jones said.
“We were having a feed … and at one point he just threw his hands gently up in the air and he said ‘Alan, I don’t know what this is about. What am I supposed to have done here?’
“It will go to the highest court in the land if it has to … the battle has just begun.”
But former Wallaby star Jeremy Paul told the ABC that Folau’s “mistakes” were not as serious as those of other players.
“I’d love to see him play in the World Cup,” he said.
“Sport is an avenue for people to go onto the field and make those mistakes better and become a hero again.
“The things he’s done aren’t as serious or heinous as what we have seen from other players.
“We’ve seen illicit drugs, assaults, alcohol, performance-enhancing drugs, players in precarious positions bringing really poor aspects to the game.”