Israel Folau asks public for $3m to fund legal fight against Rugby Australia

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The 30-year-old sportsman shared a video online on Thursday, titled 'Looking for your support'. Source: YouTube/Israel Folau.

He has barely been out of the headlines in recent months after posting anti-gay comments on social media, which led to the tearing up of his lucrative four-year contract with Rugby Australia.

Now, Folau has launched an online appeal and asked the public to help support him as he pursues a legal battle against his former employers, arguing that they sacked him over his religious beliefs after he stood by the statements he shared on Instagram.

The 30-year-old sportsman shared a video online on Thursday, titled ‘Looking for your support’, in which he revealed he has already spent more than $100,000 fighting his termination. He has also set up a GoFundMe page and asked for people to donate cash to his cause, with a goal of raising $3 million.

“As Australians we’re born with the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression,” he says in the video. “The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s work.

“Rugby Australia tore up my employment contract for doing just that and that’s wrong. Every Australian should be able to practice their religion without fear of discrimination in the workplace.”

Folau goes on to thank his family for the support they have provided him over the years, including sacrifices made by his parents so he could pursue his chosen career as a rugby star.

He continued: “With the support of my family I was blessed to have been able to pursue sports as a career. It was an honour and a privilege to go on to represent Australia on the international stage.

“Unfortunately because of my religious beliefs it looks like I will not be given the opportunity to represent Australia again. I believe that upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country.”

Folau said the cost to him and his wife Maria, who he married in 2017, is expected to be “significant” and that Rugby Australia has an “army of lawyers at their disposal”.

He continued: “Since my contract was terminated, I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the support received by family, friends, fans and the public. Even people who don’t share my beliefs have defended my right to uphold and express them.

“And made me realise I am not just fighting for my future and my family, I am fighting for what’s right. But I can’t do it alone.

Folau launched a legal appeal against Rugby Australia’s decision to terminate his contract earlier this month.

In a statement shared just two weeks ago, the 30-year-old player said he felt his treatment by Rugby Australia and the Waratahs had left him with no choice but to stand up for his beliefs and the rights of all Australians.

“I will forever be grateful and proud to have played the sport I love for our nation,” Folau explained. “Ours is an amazing country built on important principles, including freedom of religion. A nation made up of so many different faiths and cultural backgrounds will never be truly rich unless this freedom applied to all of us.”

What are your thoughts on this story? Do you think Rugby Australia made the right decision, or should Folau have been allowed to continue playing?

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