Israel Folau defends crowdfunding money for Rugby Australia legal battle – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Israel Folau defends crowdfunding money for Rugby Australia legal battle
Israel Folau has taken to social media overnight to defend his decision to crowdfund money to fight Rugby Australia (RA) over the termination of his contract.
Since then, the 30-year-old has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission and NSW Rugby for breach of contract, and set up a GoFundMe page asking members of the public to donate $3 million to his war chest.
The move has sparked fierce criticism that the code-hopping athlete, whose four-year RA contract was worth $4 million, should fund the legal battle himself.
Drew Mitchell, who played with Folau for the Wallabies at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, described the star as “greedy” in a tweet on Friday, saying he was disgusted more money had been donated to Folau’s campaign than those of children with life-threatening illnesses.
“YOU are in a fight that YOU chose to be in after YOU broke the terms of YOUR contract,” Mitchell wrote, directly addressing Folau.
“The kids below are in a fight they NEVER wanted to be in & yet YOU think YOU deserve donations more than they do??!!
“It’s no longer about religion, it’s about YOU and YOUR greed.”
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle also panned the move.
“From our perspective, [GoFundMe] is a place where sick children get support, so it’s certainly not a strategy we think is appropriate,” Castle said.
‘I have received thousands of messages from supporters’
Overnight Folau posted a statement on the GoFundMe page and social media fending off negative commentary.
“Unsurprisingly, I have been criticised by Rugby Australia and some sections of the media overnight,” he said.
“I decided to take legal action when Rugby Australia terminated my employment contract and ended my playing career after I expressed my religious beliefs on social media.
“I have received thousands of messages from supporters who believe discrimination in the workplace is wrong and has no place in Australia or anywhere else.
“Sadly, Rugby Australia have said that they will devote significant resources to fight me in court.
“This shows I have a long and hard battle on my hands, which is why I am asking for your support.
“The money that is donated will be used to fund my legal battle, which could take years.
“While the attacks against me have shown I have a big fight on my hands, I will stand strong.”
He thanked those who had donated, as well as those who simply supported his stance.
“Thank you to all those who have given to my Legal Action Fund so far,” he wrote.
“I am humbled and overwhelmed by the support I have received, for which I am very grateful.
” … If you choose to donate, within your capacity, I would be very grateful of your support for my legal case.
“For those not in the position to donate, I value your prayers and messages of support so much. God bless!”
Netball Australia stands by Folau’s wife
On Sunday, Netball Australia issued a statement in support of Maria Folau, Israel Folau’s wife and Adelaide Thunderbirds player.
She re-posted her husband’s posts on her social media accounts, which included links to his website promoting his GoFundMe campaign.
The post prompted a mixture of criticism and support on Twitter.
A statement from Netball Australia said the organisation was aware of the posts and said “there is no action required by the league”.
“We will continue to support Maria as a valued member of the Thunderbirds and the Suncorp Super Netball league,” a spokesperson said.
This content was originally published here.