Israel Folau Super League debut: More rainbow flags expected, wife Maria weighs in
Hull has no objection to fans bringing rainbow flags to its next home game, which will be Israel Folau’s first Super League match in England.
It follows claims from Castleford supporters that they were asked to remove flags supporting the LGBTQ movement after displaying them at Stade Gilbert Brutus, where Folau made his debut for Catalans Dragons on Sunday (AEDT) in his first rugby league game in 10 years.
Catalans do not have a policy of banning flags and promised to look into the matter while a Hull spokesman said: “We have nothing against pride flags in general.”
The signing of Folau has been widely condemned by both Super League and the Rugby Football League, who says it was powerless to prevent his registration.
Wigan has called the visit of the Catalans in March “Pride Day” and Wakefield had invited LGBT groups to their game against the Dragons last Sunday before it was postponed.
RELATED: Storm erupts over Folau protest
Speaking to Seven News Folau’s wife Maria, a former New Zealand netball star who was in the stands in France to watch her husband, said the couple was thankful he received a lifeline to continue his professional sporting career.
“Glad he got his first game of rugby league under his belt in a very long time and look, we just praise God every day for this wonderful opportunity,” Maria said.
Alison Grey, a Castleford fan, posted on social media during the game that she was asked to take down a rainbow flag she was showing off in protest against Folau and his arrival in the Super League.
“Just been told I am not allowed this flag because the club does not allow it. How disgusting,” she tweeted.
She later said in an interview with Sky Sports: “We were asked if we could take the flag down, first because it was against health and safety. When we said that there were other flags around the ground they gave up.
“They then came back to us later on and said it was against the views of the club to have the flags.”
Grey told Seven News her biggest issue with Folau was his lack of remorse and acceptance he did anything wrong.
“The problem is that he’s not apologised for what he’s said. He’s left the social media posts up, even after everything that happened he still went out and put another post out there,” Grey said.
“He’s obviously got no remorse for what he’s said.
Asked what she would say to Folau if she had the chance to speak to him face-to-face, Grey said: “Does he think any less of anyone who’s here who wants to support him just because they don’t believe in the same things he does?”
Catalans coach Steve McNamara would not be drawn on the matter in his post-match press conference.
“I am here to talk about football, not political or religious views or whatever else it might be. I am here to talk about rugby league. That is what I know, that is what I do, not any of the other stuff,” the former England boss said.
A joint statement from Super League and the RFL said: “Everyone should have the right to respectfully express their views.
“We are investigating. We will receive a full report by the end of this weekend and have more details by Monday.”
Folau scored with his first touch on Sunday, catching a cross-field bomb and planting the ball down for Catalans’ second try of the first half.
The Dragons won the match 36-18.
Originally published as Wife weighs in amid Folau controversy