Israel Folau Asking Public For $3 Million To Fight Rugby Australia
Former rugby star Israel Folau is asking for $3 million to pay for mounting legal costs as he fights his terminations from Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW.
The former Wallaby and Waratah launched a GoFundMe campaign, raising more than $30,000 in less than 24 hours.
"My name is Israel Folau and, until recently, playing Rugby was my livelihood," reads his impassioned plea.
"I have had the honour and the privilege of representing my country on the sporting field, for which I will be forever grateful.
"I am also a Christian. My faith is the most important thing in my life. I try to live my life according to the Bible and I believe it is my duty to share the word of the Bible."
Earlier this year, Folau posted a message to his Instagram that said gay people would go to hell unless they repent.
It breached his four-year, $4 million dollar contract with Rugby Australia, and an independent, three-person panel found it warranted his sacking.
"Rugby Australia did not choose to be in the situation, but Rugby Australia's position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue the course of action resulting in today's outcome," Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said at the time.
Folau believes this was unlawful and has started legal proceedings against Rugby Australia, already spending $100,000 of his own money.
"Even if I win, Rugby Australia can appeal. There is every chance that a prominent test case like this could take years and eventually end up in the High Court of Australia," he said.
He's appealing to people on the basis of "religious freedom", stressing Australia is a "diverse community" made up of different cultures and values.
"I do not believe that it is right or fair that I be punished for my religious beliefs," he said.
Prior to the findings of the independent review, Castle had said it had been an extremely challenging period for rugby, but that the sport needed to stand by its values and the qualities of "inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork."
She later admitted the process could have been handled better, but said it came down to the "benefit of hindsight".
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org