ADF International

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Israel Folau and the right to freedom of expression

Australian rugby player Israel Folau’s disciplinary hearing, which is set to determine whether he will lose his AUS$4m mega-contract for an Instagram post he published in April, will drag into a second day after eight hours of legal argument failed to settle the issue on Saturday. It is expected that the three-person tribunal will decide at some point next week whether Folau’s comments on social media were grievous enough to end his rugby career.

Folau has serious rugby credentials; he is the joint-third highest try scorer of all time for Australia, and has won the Australian Rugby ‘Player of the Year’ award a record three times in 2014, 2015 and 2017. He is about as gifted as it gets on the rugby field – the Cristiano Ronaldo of world rugby if you will. He even has a street named after him in the town where he played junior rugby. But pending the outcome of the tribunal, he’s been suspended from playing for his provincial team (the New South Wales Waratahs) as their season reaches its climax, and he will be out of the national team in a World Cup year if the tribunal upholds his dismissal. All because of an Instagram post.

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