Folau launches legal action against ‘jealous’ QRL

Israel Folau has launched legal action against Queensland Rugby League on discrimination grounds with his lawyer releasing a strongly-worded statement accusing the organisation of being “jealous” and “misguided”.

The latest twist in Folau’s comeback attempt comes a day after the QRL announced it would only green light Folau’s return to rugby league with the Southport Tigers as long as he obtained a release from his former club Catalans Dragons and ensure he doesn’t play at “any higher” than the community level of the game.

As Folau has not received that clearance from Catalans, his registration remains on hold, with the QRL also expressing its disappointment at threats of legal action by Folau and his backer Clive Palmer.

Now Folau has advanced those threats, with his lawyer Sam Iskander of Alexander Law claiming the cross-code star has been discriminated against.

“All Israel Folau wants to do is play football and be treated like any other person,” Iskander said in a statement.

“His application for registration with the QRL is being dealt with differently to anyone else who has ever sought registration for the Southport Tigers.

“Mr Folau’s now repudiated contract agreement with Catalans has nothing to do with the QRL.

“The QRL is not a party to it and has no rights under it. Likewise, the QRL has no right to discriminate against a player or seek to disadvantage such a player.

“Never before have we seen a QRL condition put on a player where the player has to give up representative honours and selection. They are also seeking a condition that my client can only play for the Southport Tigers.

“The QRL is effectively seeking to destroy Israel’s professional aspirations. Why is this being done to Israel Folau?”

Iskander referenced former ARLC chairman Peter Beattie’s statement in 2019 that Folau’s registration would not be considered at all, because his controversial social media posts “go against what our game stands for”.

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Folau’s lawyer concluded this was Beattie criticising Folau “for being a Christian”.

“The QRL is imposing conditions on Israel’s registration restricting him from eligibility as a player in the future – how is that inclusive?” Iskander said.

“Israel Folau was quoting the words from Bible; he is a deeply religious man.

“Peter Beattie criticised Israel for being a Christian. Christians have been unfairly criticised throughout history.

“We do not understand why Israel is being treated differently to any other player seeking registration in the QRL by placing conditions on him which have not been placed on any other player seeking registration from the Southport Tigers.

“We can only conclude it is because of his religious beliefs.

“Israel is seeking the right to claim damages from the QRL, its board members and any other person who has discriminated against him by denying him lawful rights.”

The legal action against the QRL will be against the organisation itself as well as individuals on the board, Iskander confirmed.

“Israel Folau loves his wife and son, he doesn’t do drugs, drink or smoke,” Iskander said.

“He hasn’t been subject to any criminal offences; he hasn’t assaulted any women. He doesn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. Why then is Israel being discriminated against when has never transgressed?

“He has a release from his former club the Brisbane Broncos and needs to be on the field this weekend.

Folau has no regrets over controversial social media posts

“My client’s instructions are clear. No matter how long or whatever the cost, he will receive justice and freedom to practice his religious beliefs.

“He simply is the best rugby player in the world. The QRL must be brought to account for their jealousy and misguided understanding of their obligations.

“All my client seeks is to be dealt fairly like any other player from the Southport Tigers without any reference to the QRL board.

“I will seek confirmation from the QRL lawyers to accept service on behalf of the QRL and each of its board members.”

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