Rugby player Israel Folau, whose contract was terminated in May for multiple homophobic social media posts, appears to be set to return to the game.
CNN reports that the Tonga National Rugby League (TNRL) announced Folau had been cleared to play for the Tonga national team at the upcoming Oceania Cup next month.
In a press release, TNRL said both Folau and his 24-year-old brother, John, who already represents Tonga, “have registered to play league through the TNRL and are eligible to play in international rugby league fixtures.”
Folau added, “I don’t want to bring any of my personal matters into this and I am grateful that the RLIF have endorsed my availability. What I will do now is focus on playing great rugby league and do my talking on the field.”
However, the Oceania Cup is run by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) which would have to approve the decision.
RLIF has publicly stated they have “not been formally asked to consider the matter.”
Peter Beattie says Israel Folau playing for Tonga has not been discussed.
“The RLIF has made no decision in relation to any registration request for Israel Folau.
I can assure you that this has never been discussed or mentioned around the board table.”
— David Mark (@davymark1) September 23, 2019
Folau was one of Australia’s highest-paid athletes before being sacked for social media posts that declared homosexuals are destined for Hell.
Here is just one of the posts that still remains on his Instagram:
After being accused of breaching the player’s code of conduct, the 30-year-old was dismissed from the Wallabies by Rugby Australia.
He attempted to raise AUS$3 million from fans through a crowdfunding campaign, but GoFundMe terminated the campaign saying they do not “tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.”
The Australian Christian Lobby, an extreme religious group, stepped in to help Folau raise over $2 million to fund his legal battles.