Gary Ablett has broken his silence after the backlash over
Gary Ablett has broken his silence after the backlash over "liking" Israel Folau’s post. Picture: Adam Trafford

Ablett breaks silence over Folau scandal

GEELONG champion Gary Ablett Jr has broken his silence after being drawn into the Israel Folau scandal.

Ablett became embroiled in the backlash after liking Folau's controversial Instagram post, but the dual Brownlow Medal winner responded on Saturday and explained why he initially liked the post and later removed it.

Cats officials spoke to Ablett after it was revealed he had liked the anti-gay post by Folau that put the rugby star's career on the ropes.

Ablett returned to Instagram on Saturday afternoon to say he initially wanted to support Folau's strong Christian faith, but understood why his "like" had "appeared" offensive.

He also stated he loved "ALL people regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality".

"There has been a lot of coverage about Israel Folau's post this week. It saddens me and my family to see how the coverage of this story has played out," Ablett wrote.

"I want to make it clear that I love ALL people regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality.

"I have always admired how strong Izzy is in his faith, it is not easy to share faith in the public sphere, and this is why I initially 'liked' his post.

"I understand that liking this post appeared offensive and this is why I chose to remove my 'like' from the post.

"As a Christian, I believe that God sent his one and only son Jesus to die on the cross so that anyone can come to have an intimate and personal relationship with him. This is the core message behind why I believe we celebrate Easter.

"I also believe that we are all sinners, that no one including myself is exempt from this and this is why Jesus died for us so that we could all be forgiven by God. God is a loving God and I pray that everyone will come to experience that same love as I have.

"Happy Easter everyone!"

On Monday, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan revealed Ablett and Matthew Kennedy had both been spoken to over their initial support of Folau.

McLachlan confirmed both players "unliked" the post, as he spoke about the oversight that led them to supporting Folau's stance in the first place.

"The thing to note about the two players is they both 'unliked' it," McLachlan told Neil Mitchell on 3AW radio on Friday.

"The feedback I've got is that those players have strong faith and it was almost an instinctive thing to like it without really understanding what that individual post was about.

"What I'd say is that everyone is entitled to their views and beliefs but our sport is one of acceptance and inclusion of all people and people need to be mindful of that.

"Everyone is really, really clear about how we see our game being for everyone and we want an inclusive environment at all times and our players are on board with that."

McLachlan refused to go into specifics about the Folau case but reinforced the AFL was an inclusive organisation that promoted football as a sport for everyone.

"I know that people have spoken to them, yes. Club people, and I've got feedback from our guys about those discussions," McLachlan said.

"It's a mature discussion to say we understand your faith is important to you and we are fully supportive of that but you need to be mindful that we have an inclusive environment and where there is the possibility for a conflict."

- with AAP