Australia

Israel Folau fundraiser for legal fight surpasses $630,000 despite backlash

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More than $630,000 has been raised for Israel Folau through a Go Fund Me page to help pay for his legal battle against Rugby Australia.

Former Wallaby Israel Folau has thanked donors for pouring more than half a million dollars into his legal fight against Rugby Australia, doubling down on his intention to use the funds despite public outcry.

Folau had his $4 million RA contract terminated in May after a post he made on social media citing the Bible was deemed homophobic. It followed a similar incident last year.

The former NRL, AFL and rugby star received more than $636,000 in donations of a $3 million target to his online fundraising page as of midday on Sunday.

About 8,300 people have donated to help support the former player's legal stoush against RA.

Folau is requesting donations despite a reported $7 million property portfolio and the recent sale of a $500,000 Lamborghini.

folau
GoFundMe

He thanked donors on Saturday and said he was "unsurprised" by criticism from RA and media personalities regarding his decision to establish the Go Fund Me page.

"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," Folau wrote on social media.

"Your support and my faith in Jesus Christ will give me strength."

Despite the spike in donations, Folau's decision to take his fight to Go Fund Me has prompted a sharp backlash.

"From our perspective (Go Fund Me) is a place where sick children get support, so it's certainly not a strategy we think is appropriate," Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle told Nine News.

Former Wallabies teammate Drew Mitchell also slammed Folau's decision, saying there were others more deserving of donations.

"YOU are in a fight that YOU chose to be in after YOU broke the terms of YOUR contract, the kids below are in a fight they NEVER wanted to be in & yet YOU think YOU deserve donations more than they do??!!," he posted on Twitter.

But former Australian Christian Lobby chief Lyle Shelton defended Folau, saying "if Israel loses, we all do".

In his plea for donations Folau said he had "the fight of my life on my hands". He has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission against Rugby Australia and is seeking up to $10 million in damages.

The case could be a landmark test of religious freedoms in Australia.

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