Israel Folau Cops Criticism For Not Taking A Knee Before Match
Controversial Australian sportsman Israel Folau has landed back in hot water.
The former Wallaby, who moved to France to play with the Catalans Dragons rugby league team, was the only player who didn't take a knee before the match at Headingley in Leeds.
Players from St Helens and Catalans paused to make a silent protest in line with the Black Lives Matter movement, however Folau remained standing.
At the following match on Sunday afternoon, players from Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants took a knee before the match as well.
The reaction to Folau's choice not to kneel with his fellow players sparked outrage on social media.
One person wrote: "Against all odds, Israel Folau somehow manages to become even more of a s**t than previously thought."
Another added: "St Helens and Catalans players take the knee before kick-off: but noticeably Israel Folau did NOT join the rest of the players in doing so. Wow."
A third said: "Wouldn't expect anything less from Israel Folau."
St Helens and Catalans players take the knee before kick-off: but noticeably Israel Folau did NOT join the rest of the players in doing so. Wow. pic.twitter.com/kK0c8tPW7d
- Aaron Bower (@AaronBower) August 2, 2020
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While he came in for a great deal of criticism online, it seems his decision has been supported by the team's head coach.
Steve McNamara has defended Folau and said he is free to make a 'personal choice' not to take a knee.
"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."
The 31-year-old moved out of Australia after he was embroiled in a scandal with the Wallabies over a homophobic post he made on social media. Folau refused to take it down and the Australian rugby union team decided to sack him.
He took them to court over unfair dismissal and they eventually settled before a decision was handed down.
Folau then moved to Europe to play in a new code and has agreed to play until the end of 2021.
Head coach Steve McNamara said it was an interesting shift for the player, especially considering he hadn't played for a whole year during the saga back in Australia.
"It was tough for him coming in with no training," McNamara said. "The break has been good for him and given the opportunity to get a sustained period of training in."
Featured Image Credit: PA