Published: Sun, June 23, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Israel Folau defends crowdfunding money for Rugby Australia legal battle

Israel Folau defends crowdfunding money for Rugby Australia legal battle

The devoutly Christian athlete was sacked after a tribunal found him guilty of a "high-level" breach of the Rugby Australia code of conduct for posting on social media that "hell awaits" gay people.

Said Rugby Australia at the time: "Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Rugby Union have made repeated attempts to contact Israel both directly and via his representatives since 6.30pm on Wednesday, and at this point he has failed to communicate directly with either organisation".

Folau says he and wife Maria, an global netball player, have already spent more than $100,000 dealing with RA's internal tribunal processes.

FitzSimons cited this viral tweet from former Wallaby Drew Mitchell, a former teammate of Folau's.

Folau said in a message on the fundraising platform, "My faith is the most important thing in my life".

Folau has turned to Gofundme to fundraise for this costly pity party, and is seeking to amass at least $3 million, which he says he will spend on taking Rugby Australia to court.

Others were gobsmacked that Folau needed to ask the public for money when he's surely earned enough over his career to cover himself.

"As Australians we are born with a right to freedom of religion, and freedom of expression, " Folau said (that part about freedom of expression? Not strictly true in constitutional terms, but that's another matter).

"It was quite a shock and to me", Folau said. It followed a similar ordeal past year.

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Israel Folau: "After the first initial incident that happened past year I had a meeting with Raelene and we spoke about the potential effect it can have within the game".

Australian rugby star Israel Folau has spoken publicly for the first time about his legal dispute with Rugby Australia.

He told 2GB radio's conservative commentator Alan Jones on June 21 that his termination was "inconsistent", as there had been no clause in his contract to state that he couldn't express his religious beliefs outside the workplace. My faith is what defines me as a person.

"I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God's word".

But Folau's decision to "stand up for the word of God" hasn't come without criticism, in particular from the body he is seeking to take on. There is every chance that a prominent test case like this could take years and eventually end up in the High Court of Australia. "Earlier this year, I uploaded some messages from the Bible on my Instagram page".

"My fight with Rugby Australia to defend my right to practice my religion has so far cost my wife Maria and me over $100,000 in legal fees".

"Sadly, Rugby Australia have said that they will devote significant resources to fight me in court".

"That's not what GoFundMe is for, it's for worthy causes where the people need money and they can't support it so they approach the community and say 'listen, I've got nothing in my pockets, I've got a tumour can you help me?' I have the fight of my life on my hands and every little bit will help", he added.

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