Israel Folau raises compensation bid over Rugby Australia sacking

Israel Folau scores a try while playing for the Wallabies during a test match in 2017Image copyright
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Israel Folau was sacked for making anti-gay comments on social media

Rugby player Israel Folau has upped his demands for compensation from Rugby Australia to A$14m (£7.4m; $9.5m), following his high-profile sacking.

The former Wallabies star is suing after being fired in May for making anti-gay remarks on social media.

Folau, a Christian, argues that the termination of his contract is a case of religious discrimination.

In raising his compensation claim, Folau asserted that he could have become captain of the national side.

The 30-year-old full-back also included potential lost earnings from match performances and sponsorship deals in his amended claim, which was filed on Wednesday.

He argued the Wallabies would have achieved a “superior performance” at the Rugby World Cup in September if he had been in the side.

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Folau – previously one of the nation’s highest-paid athletes – had originally sought A$10m and a return to the national side, after being terminated for saying “hell awaits” gay people.

His case will be heard in the Federal Circuit Court next February. It is possible that the case could set a legal precedent for religious expression in Australian workplaces.

Folau has been supported by Christian lobby groups, but he has also been widely condemned for his anti-gay and anti-transgender comments.

Media captionThe Australian Christian Lobby has organised fundraisers for Folau

Folau raised over A$2m in a crowd-funding campaign in June, saying donations had come from “tens of thousands of Australians”. An earlier fundraiser was shut down after the host platform, GoFundMe, said Folau’s cause promoted discrimination.

Last week, Folau was strongly criticised after he linked Australia’s ongoing bushfire crisis to the nation’s same-sex marriage and abortion laws.