Margaret Court has weighed in on the Israel Folau controversy, claiming he’s being unfairly persecuted.
The Aussie tennis great, who has been slammed for her own controversial comments on same-sex marriage in the past, told The Australian on Thursday that she feels for Folau after his ‘severe’ sanctions from Rugby Australia.
“He could have been a little bit more diplomatic but the penalty he’s receiving is very severe,” she said.
“I understand why Israel is doing this: you want everybody to know Christ and under it all there is a great love for your nation and you want people to know what you have received.
“He really just wants people to come to Christ. I don’t think he should be penalised because really there’s a truth there.
“We have to repent and turn away from some things if we want to know him.
“What he is saying about repenting is straight out of the Bible. My heart goes out to him because he’s being persecuted.”
Code of conduct hearing
Court’s comments come after Folau officially requested a code of conduct hearing on Wednesday in an attempt to fight RA’s intention to terminate his contract.
Unless successful at the hearing, Folau faces the sack after being issued with a “high-level” breach notice on Monday over controversial social media posts he made on April 10.
“Israel has responded formally today to request a code of conduct hearing which, under the circumstances, was not an unexpected outcome,” said RA CEO Raelene Castle..
“We will now work to confirm a date for the hearing as soon as possible.”
The hearing process will involve a panel of three – a representative of RA, a representative of the players’ union RUPA and someone else approved by both organisations.
Given there are Easter public holidays on Friday and next Monday then Anzac Day next Thursday, it seems unlikely the hearing will be conducted until the following week.
It’s understood the hearing would not take place for five days until after the tribunal has been convened.
There’s no guarantee the outcome of the hearing will be the final chapter of the saga, as the loser could could consider taking the matter to the courts
The standoff between Folau and his employers comes just five months out from the World Cup in Japan and two months after he signed a four-year contract.