News Irish News

Sunday 25 August 2019

Bundee Aki escapes sanction after mistake in 'liking' homophobic Instagram post

‘Respect for everyone’: Bundee Aki said he immediately ‘unliked’ Israel Folau’s post when he realised what it was about. Photo: Sportsfile
‘Respect for everyone’: Bundee Aki said he immediately ‘unliked’ Israel Folau’s post when he realised what it was about. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Irish international star Bundee Aki will avoid censure from rugby authorities here after admitting he mistakenly "liked" a social media posting from controversial Australian international Israel Folau, in which the latter claimed "hell awaited" gay people.

Folau faces the sack for his homophobic comments while England's Billy Vunipola also liked the April 10 posting and was subsequently issued with formal warnings by both his club and country.

However, Connacht centre Aki, who has won 12 caps with Joe Schmidt's side since switching allegiance from New Zealand to Ireland, has swiftly moved to distance himself from his mistake.

Folau is challenging his dismissal from a central contract with the Australian Rugby Union and Aki might have faced the possibility of similar censure once his name had become linked with the controversial message.

His speedy act of contrition will ensure there will be no more action taken by the IRFU, who would have been mindful of the global outrage prompted by Folau's strident stance and Vunipola's subsequent public actions.

"It does not reflect my views as a Christian," Aki wrote on Instagram.

"When I realised what the post was about I immediately unliked it straight away, as it does not reflect my views as a Christian.

"Yes I do believe in God but my belief is that he is a God of kindness, peace and loves people in all aspects.

"I have family members, friends, and I have worked with many people who are gay and I have nothing but love and respect for every one of them. I do want to apologise for any confusion or offence this may have caused anyone, and I will pay more attention to what I 'like' in future."

Folau (30) has contested Rugby Australia's decision to sack him and his future will be decided at a code of conduct hearing on May 4.

Vunipola was roundly booed by Munster fans during last Saturday's Champions Cup tie in Coventry, and then approached by one in the aftermath in a week when he was officially rebuked for an Instagram post which stated that "man was made for woman".

He reiterated his beliefs after the game, claiming he hadn't intended to hurt anyone.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News