Martin Offiah reacts as Israel Folau refuses to take knee before Catalans match
Rugby league legend Martin Offiah has demanded an explanation from Israel Folau after the Catalans Dragons star refused to take the knee before the side’s clash with St Helens.
Players from both teams kneeled in support of the Black Lives Movement at an empty Emerald Headingley Stadium as the Super League season returned on Sunday afternoon.
But Catalans centre Folau remained standing on his own and looked down at the ground before reigning champions St Helens went on to thump the French club 34-6 to move to fifth in the table.
It’s not the first time Folau has caused controversy with his behaviour. In May 2019, the 31-year-old’s Rugby Australia contract was terminated after he shared a post on social media stating that ‘hell awaits’ all homosexual people.
The former Wallaby also launched an attack on the trans community last year, claiming that gender fluidity was the work of the ‘devil’.
Reacting to Folau’s refusal to kneel at the weekend, ex-Great Britain ace Offiah told Sky Sports: ‘It shows you that life is not black and white. He’s a complex, controversial character, Israel.
‘Why he didn’t take the knee? We’ll only know if we go and ask him after the game. It’s interesting to see he stood up.
‘You need to put a microphone in front of Israel and get him to speak for himself.
‘It’s a complex issue as I say I don’t believe… even with Israel’s first comments which brought him into world notoriety he said he did it from a point of love and his own understanding.
‘So it would just be interesting to understand what that point is because we’re here in the dark, and I don’t think [Catalans coach] Steve McNamara knows.’
However, McNamara chose to defend Folau’s right to not to take the knee while stressing that Catalans Dragons were club were committed to fighting racial injustice.
‘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.’
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