In failing to join teammates and supporters in taking a knee to support the Black Lives Matter campaign in Super League ‘s return Sunday, Israel Folau has courted more controversy.
The Catalans hand of the former Wallabies fullback was hammered 34-6 by champions St Helens in the first match since the March coronavirus stopped the game.
However, the game’s biggest talk point came before kick-off when Folau stayed standing while the other 25 players on the field and the referee were knelting briefly at Headingley.
St Helens and Catalans players take the knee before kick-off: but noticeably Israel Folau did NOT join the rest of the players in doing so. Wow. pic.twitter.com/kK0c8tPW7d
— Aaron Bower (@AaronBower) August 2, 2020
After the death of American George Floyd, the Black Lives Matters campaign has expanded around the world despite being arrested in May.
And all recent football matches in the Premier League have seen players taking a knee before kick-off-a development that Super League has said they want to implement.
Folau has been courting controversy since his homophobic social media comments which saw him sacked by Rugby Australia.
Catalan coach Steve McNamara defended his decision not to kneel, and said that he had the right to make a personal decision.
“As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in depth and as a club we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity,” McNamara said.
“But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee. That was based on personal choice, they have their own reasons for doing that, and we decided we would respect anyone’s personal choice on the matter.”