The motivation behind Israel Folau’s decision not to take a knee with teammates during their powerful Black Lives Matter protest has reportedly been revealed.
The code-hopping star on Monday stirred up another international controversy when he was the only player that refused to kneel in the final seconds before his Catalans team’s season re-start with St Helens.
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Folau’s private motivations were kept under wraps for more than 24 hours as the rugby league world debated his decision to stand while 33 other players and both referees took a knee together before the game kicked off.
Wide World of Sports revealed on Tuesday Folau refused to take the knee because of his beliefs that he will only bow for his god.
“He will only kneel for one being — his god,” Channel 9 reported.
“He obviously supports justice for black people, being of Islander background himself, but kneeling in protest goes against his beliefs.”
Rugby League: Catalans coach Steve McNamara said it was the personal choice of Israel Folau along with other players and staff as to whether they kneel or not prior to the game.
Folau’s firm Christian faith was also the underlying factor behind his explosive legal action with Rugby Australia which ended in a multimillion-dollar settlement in Folau’s favour.
Already locked in a legal dispute with Rugby Australia at the time over his widely condemned social media post that claimed “hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators” — Folau’s view of his faith got him in hot water again when he appeared to suggest the summer bushfire tragedy was a sign of “god’s judgment”.
While Folau has since claimed his comment was simply a “timely reminder of god’s word” — he originally said: “Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come, in a short period of time.
Israel Folau is still making headlines.Source:Getty Images
“You think it’s a coincidence or not? God is speaking to you guys. Australia, you need to repent.”
Catalans players and coach Steve McNamara on Monday defended Folau’s decision not to join teammates in their display of protest.
“As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in depth and as a club we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity,” McNamara said.
“But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee. That was based on personal choice, they have their own reasons for doing that, and we decided we would respect anyone’s personal choice on the matter.”
Folau was the only one of the 34 players not to kneel.Source:Twitter
Great Britain rugby league legend Martin Offiah, who is of a Nigerian background, said he would love to know Folau’s reasoning for refusing to kneel on Monday (AEST).
“It shows you that life is not black and white, he’s a complex, controversial character, Israel,” Offiah told Sky Sports.
“Why he didn’t take the knee? We’ll only know if we go and ask him after the game. It’s interesting to see he stood up.
“You need to put a microphone in front of Israel and get him to speak for himself.
“It’s a complex issue as I say I don’t believe… even with Israel’s first comments which brought him into world notoriety he said he did it from a point of love and his own understanding.
“So it would just be interesting to understand what that point is because were here in the dark, and I don’t think [Catalans coach] Steve McNamara knows.”
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