The tale of Israel Folau is long. In May of last year, Folau, who was Australia’s highest paid rugby player, was fired for posts on social media that equated homosexuals to “drunks, adulterers, liars, and fornicators." “Hell awaits you. Repent!” the posts said.
Rugby Australia and the North South Wales Rugby Union condemned the posts, and fired the player as they weren’t his first infractions. Folau responded by suing the league and asking his fans for $3 million to help him do so.
In December, Rugby Australia decided to settle the “unfair dismissal” case for an unreleased amount. And while he may not be playing for Rugby Australia anymore, Folau is getting back into the sport: the athlete just signed a deal with the France-based Catlan Dragons of the Super League.
But just because he’s been signed doesn’t mean anyone is happy about it. When Folau made headlines in the past for his homophobia, other athletes have spoken out about it. Gareth Thomas, a retired player came out hard against the Dragons when the news of this signing surfaced. And now, a competiting team is doing the little they can to silently protest.
The Wigan Warriors are scheduled to play the Dragons on March 22, so for that day they’ve announced the celebration of “Pride Day.” Yeah, you read that right.
For the occasion, Wigan Warriors players will wear rainbow socks and laces for their match and local LGBTQ+ groups will be invited to watch. They will also work with charities to further the effort.
“Here at Wigan Warriors we are committed to the core values of inclusion and respect,” the executive director Kris Radlinski said in a statement. “Our community foundation have a long history of supporting local LGBTQ+ groups and initiatives, and we want everyone who engages with our game to feel welcome, valued, and most of all, respected.”