The Israel Folau saga has ended as the out-of-work footballer reached an out-of-court settlement with Rugby Australia.
After a marathon 14-hour negotiation, the two parties resolved their differences and issued a joint statement.
“While it was not Rugby Australia’s intention, Rugby Australia acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused to the Folaus,” the statement said according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Similarly, Mr Folau did not intend to hurt or harm the game of rugby and acknowledges and apologises for any hurt or harm caused.”
According to reports, the settlement figure is as high as $8 million. However, on Twitter Raelene Castle, CEO of Rugby Australia, dismissed such figures as “wildly inaccurate”; in his weekly column, the Sydney Morning Herald’s chief sports writer Andrew Webster wrote that the figure is “likely to be between $2.5 to $5 million”.
Meanwhile, RMIT’s professor of workplace law Andrew Forsyth said that given the $14 million Folau and his legal team were asking for, according to court documents, it was likely that the settlement he received was high.
“Given that he upped his claim to $14 million last week you’d have to expect that a significant amount of money has been paid,” Professor Forsyth said.
“It should also been borne in mind that although Rugby Australia apologised, they actually apologised to each other. That’s a mutually agreed conclusion, so nothing much should be drawn from that.”
Castle has also defended her and Rugby Australia’s decision to reach a settlement with Folau.
”No we didn’t get it wrong. At the end of the day we stood up for the values of Rugby Australia,” Castle said, according to the SMH.
“The person that chose to breach the code of conduct was found guilty and his contract was ultimately terminated because of that. That stands up and continues to say, ‘This is an inclusive sport.’
“Behaviour and commentary of this type is not acceptable in our sport and everybody in rugby needs to be included, regardless of what their background is.”
Folau on the other hand declared himself “extremely pleased” at reaching a settlement.
“With today’s acknowledgment and apology by Rugby Australia, we have been vindicated and can now move on with our lives to focus on our faith and our family,” Folau said.
Israel Folau was controversially dismissed by Rugby Australia earlier this year, after the footballer published a post on Instagram that condemned homosexuals, and others, to hell if they did not repent.
Claiming that his dismissal discriminated on his religious beliefs, Folau sought recourse through the dismissal tribunal process set up as a function of the Rugby Union Players’ Association’s workplace agreement with Rugby Australia.
Not finding success in the tribunal, Folau proceeded to commence an unlawful termination claim. The parties were directed to attend a mediation by the Court.