Gordon D’Arcy believes athletes are entitled to their own opinions, but as soon as they participate in sport, there are societal norms that must be adhered to foster inclusivity.
The former Ireland international was speaking in light of Rugby Australia’s decision to terminate Israel Folau’s contract after a social media post in which he said hell awaits "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters".
The governing body said the 30-year-old committed a "high level" breach of the professional players’ code of conduct, and had ignored formal instruction not to make any social media post that "condemns, vilifies or discriminates against people on the basis of their sexuality".
Folau, who only penned a four-year deal two months ago, has notified Rugby Australia of his intention to contest a "high level" code of conduct breach notice, with the matter set to head to a tribunal hearing.
Speaking at the launch of the new and improved Aviva Stadium Tour, 82-cap Ireland international D’Arcy said Folau’s stance has no place in sport if it is to truly remain inclusive.
"At a very basic level, if you start putting labels onto people in sport, you break down the fabric of what sport is," he told RTÉ Sport.
"I don't think there's any ambiguity on that. People are entitled to believe whatever they want, but if you want to participate in sport - which is inclusive by its very nature - you need to understand that and participate in that."
D’Arcy says that whatever about the argument of athletes being role models, they are certainly in a place of influence and that creating such barriers not only impacts supporters and the greater public, but the very people they are sharing a dressing room with.
"Social interaction, in a world that's being over-digitised and all that, social interaction is incredibly important. If you create barriers in sport, where does society go from there?
"What if there is a person on his team who is gay and hasn't come out or one of the many things he doesn't agree with? How do they function under the banner of sport?"
"Sport can't have barriers. If you don't want to participate within those parameters, fine, but there are ramifications to your actions if you don't. If you want to participate in sport, particularly if you want to get very well paid for it, there are societal norms which you need to step up to.
"I don't think anyone can argue around with that.
"What if there is a person on his team who is gay and hasn't come out or one of the many things he doesn't agree with? How do they function under the banner of sport?
"Because that's not inclusive."
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