Israel Folau launches $3 million crowdfunding campaign to pay for legal fight over contract – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Israel Folau launches $3 million crowdfunding campaign to pay for legal fight over contract
The Israel Folau saga has taken another twist, with the former Wallabies star launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise $3 million to fight Rugby Australia (RA) over the termination of his contract.
The 30-year-old recently appointed a legal team comprised of high-profile employment lawyers, including barrister George Haros and barrister Stuart Wood AM QC.
A statement from his lawyers said Folau was seeking “substantial remedies from his former employers should they be found to have breached the Fair Work Act in terminating his employment”.
A GoFundMe page for the 73-times-capped Wallaby player was created this week and as of 12:00pm AEST on Friday it had raised almost $220,000 of a target of $3 million.
His statement on the page said that he would be “forever grateful” for having the honour and privilege of playing for Australia.
“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,” he said.
“Since my contract was terminated I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the support received from family, friends, fans and the public. Even people who don’t share my beliefs have defended my right to uphold and express them.”
Folau said he believed sharing the Bible “is an act of love and compassion”.
He said he understood that many people did not like or believe in the Bible.
“What makes our country so wonderful is that we have such a diverse community made up of so many different cultures and values,” he said.
“But my faith defines me as a person. I do not believe that it is fair or right that I be punished for my religious beliefs.
“As a result [of his contract termination] I have lost my job, my livelihood, and the ability to play for my country. It looks like I will never be allowed to play rugby in this country again.”
Folau said he believed his contract termination was unlawful, prompting him to launch his legal fight.
“In response, Rugby Australia have already said that they will ‘divert significant resources’ to fight me in court,” Folau said in his statement.
“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.
“My wife Maria and I have already spent over $100,000 of our own money, and that was just to try and deal with Rugby Australia’s internal tribunal processes.
“The money I am asking for is solely to fund the rest of my action in court.”
Folau said he knew the action would be very costly in terms of money, time and reputation — but added: “I do not intend to stop now. I have the fight of my life on my hands and every little bit will help.”
Speaking to the congregation of a church in Kenthurst, Folau read from scripture and took aim at Christians who did not oppose same-sex marriage.
“If there’s ever a time to stand up for the word of God, now is the time … otherwise, the truth of God will be slowly taken out,” he said.
Folau encouraged worshippers to “preach repentance unto people” at the end of the sermon, which lasted for more than 20 minutes.
“This is no game … life here as a Christian is not a playground, there’s no mucking around, we are called as soldiers of Christ to go out there and to fight the good fight,” he said.
“But at the same time, we show love and grace to people.”
This content was originally published here.