A group of footballers who supported Israel Folau’s latest controversial social media post have earned themselves nominations for The Frownlow Medal. Among the thousands of people who ‘liked’ Folau’s inflammatory post were NRL and Super Rugby players Albert Vete, Marika Koroibete, Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Anthony Milford, Curtis Rona, plus Parramatta Eels players Manu Ma’u, Michael Jennings, Tim Mannah and Brad Takairangi, as well as Queensland Reds captain Samu Kerevi.
Folau posted on instagram that Gay people, among others, would be sent to hell, and the comment attracted ‘likes’ from more than 36,000 people, including the footballers listed above.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 and code-swapper Karmichael Hunt was the most recent recipient.
For some of these players, this is not their first Frownlow nomination. Milford and Vete earn their second nomination, while Jennings earned nominations in 2016 and 2018, both for drunken behaviour, so he is one of the ‘Drunks’ that Folau has condemned to hell.
Folau’s comments appear to have ended his football career, such is the controversy they have created. As for the ‘enablers’ listed above, they have so far received no punishment for supporting such inflammatory views. They have, however, earned a nomination for the most prestigious award in Australian sport.