Money rolling in for Folau's new fundraising campaign
NEWS: A Christian group launched a crowdfunding campaign Tuesday for sacked Australian rugby star Israel Folau, after his original appeal – to fight his sacking for controversial comments – was shut down over concerns it was discriminatory.
The new fundraising campaign from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has raised more money than Folau’s GoFundMe page in the space of 14 hours, with more than AUS$800 000 flooding in from donors.
The 30-year-old, a devout Christian, was sacked by the governing body last month for posting controversial comments on Instagram.
The group’s managing director Martyn Iles said ACL would also be donating Aus$100 000 of its own funds towards Folau’s cause “because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent”.
“Many Australians want to support Izzy Folau because they feel his case is their case and they can help make a difference and show him he is not alone,” he tweeted before the appeal went live.
Story continues below…
Folau initially set up his appeal on GoFundMe, estimating he would need Aus$3 million to fight his sacking for uploading an image to Instagram which stated drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters would go to hell.
The appeal had raised more than Aus$700 000 (US$486 000) before GoFundMe shut it down on Monday, saying the platform would not “tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion”.
Folau was fired last month after a Rugby Australia tribunal found him guilty of “high-level” misconduct over his social media posts.
He has taken his case to Australia’s employment watchdog the Fair Work Commission, asserting that he simply posted sentiments from the Bible.
The issue has revived debate about the right to freedom of religious expression against restrictions on hate speech.
Australia’s conservative government, which was re-elected in May, has vowed to enshrine religious freedom protections in law, while the ACL was vocal in opposing the introduction of gay marriage laws in 2017.
Folau’s legal team and Rugby Australia officials will sit down for the face-to-face talks in Sydney on Friday as part of the employment watchdog’s processes.
He is reportedly seeking Aus$10 million in damages, including for lost sponsorship and marketing opportunities.
Folau was on a four-year contract worth more than Aus$1.0 million annually when he was sacked.
His crowdfunding campaign had attracted criticism, with Australian media noting that he was one of the best-paid players in the world and owns a multi-million dollar property portfolio.
Additional source: The Sydney Morning Herald
In other news: