ABC to screen two-part documentary on Israel Folau


The ABC set to screen a two-part documentary on controversial rugby player Israel Folau.

Screening over two consecutive Monday nights the documentary is described as one that will “take audiences inside the clash of culture, faith and football.”

Folau was one of Australia’s most prominent athletes, but when he began making posts on social media that stated gay people were going to hell, and that marriage was only for heterosexual couples, he found himself in the heart of Australia’s culture wars, an experience that ultimately derailed his career.

The documentary is promoted as the first time Israel Folau’s story will be examined in all its multilayered complexity, featuring crucial Pasifika voices and exploring the nexus between freedom of religion and speech, protection from discrimination for the LGBTQIA+ community, and how far the workplace can reasonably go to balance the two.

The first part which air on Monday, 21 November, 8.45pm, traces Israel Folau’s upbringing in the devout Christian traditions of the Pasifika community, whose other ‘religion’ is rugby. It follows his meteoric and record setting rise through three football codes, culminating in 73 appearances for the Wallabies.

While initially grappling with the pitfalls of fame and fortune, when his father Eni experiences a major health scare, Folau re-evaluates his choices, setting him on a path that will alter the course of his career and life forever.

In Part 2, airing on Monday, 28 November, Folau posts an internet meme that rocks the nation and sees him sacked by Rugby Australia. With insider accounts, this episode unpicks what happens in the hours, days and weeks that follow and shows the impact it had on the Pasifika community – straight and queer.

As he fights his former employer in the courts of justice and public opinion, he finds an ally in the Australian Christian Lobby, becoming a voice in Australia’s political cycle, galvanising forces debating the impact of a proposed religious discrimination bill.

See the documentary’s trailer.

OIP Staff

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