Israel Folau, Rugby Australia announce mediated settlement

SYDNEY (AP) — Israel Folau and Rugby Australia have settled their dispute over the former Wallaby fullback’s contract termination due to his controversial social media posts.

The two sides announced a confidential settlement had been reached on Wednesday after mediation ordered by the Federal Circuit Court.

Folau had asked for 14 million Australian dollars ($9.5 million) in compensation, while Rugby Australia said it was within its rights to fire him over a controversial Instagram post in April condemning "drunks, homosexuals" and warning "hell awaits" them.

"Rugby Australia, NSW Rugby and Israel Folau have today settled their legal dispute following the dismissal of Israel Folau after he posted a religious message on social media," they said in a joint statement. “The social media post reflected Mr. Folau's genuinely held religious beliefs, and Mr. Folau did not intend to harm or offend any person when he uploaded the social media post.”

The statement said Folau “wants all Australians to know that he does not condone discrimination of any kind against any person on the grounds of their sexuality and that he shares Rugby Australia's commitment to inclusiveness and diversity."

One of the top players in world rugby, Folau was almost a certainty to play for Australia at the World Cup in Japan. Australia lost to England in the quarterfinals.

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