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Christian rugby player Israel Folau banned from talking about faith as he joins new team

by Marcus Jones

Israel Folau, the Christian rugby player who hit the headlines last year after losing his job over comments made on social media, has signed for a new club.

He will represent Catalan Dragons who are based in France but play in England.

The move comes months after he settled out of court with his previous employers, Rugby Australia, who he had accused of unfair dismissal.

His case received worldwide attention when he was sacked after posting a comment on Instagram in which said that hell awaits sinners including adulterers and homosexuals.

The comments were widely criticised with his bosses claiming he had brought the game into disrepute.

After a successful fundraising campaign, supported by the Australian Christian Lobby, Folau took legal action which resulted him in being awarded an undisclosed payment.

He wasn't however given his job back.

His return sees him switching codes from rugby union to rugby league and will see him competing in England's Super League.

He's been given a one year contract, which will be terminated if he makes similar comments linked to his faith.

The club has also been warned it will be given a substantial fine by the league authorities for such comments.

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone, said: "Super League deplores the homophobic comments Israel Folau has made in the past, which squarely contradict our sport's core values. 

"I have sought the opinion of informed voices connected to our game, and the majority share my disappointment that one of our clubs has chosen to sign him.  

"However, Super League does not have the authority to veto the registration of players and is satisfied by the due diligence carried out by The Rugby Football League.  

"Israel Folau is a free agent, who has the right to work, and he has not been charged or found guilty of any criminal offence."

Israel Folau commented: "I acknowledge the views expressed by Super League and the Rugby Football League. 

"I'm a proud Christian, my beliefs are personal, my intention is not to hurt anyone and I will not be making further public comment about them. 

"I look forward to my return to the great game of Rugby League with the Catalans Dragons."

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