Former Wallabies star Israel Folau has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise A$3 million ($2.1 million) for his legal battle against Rugby Australia after he was sacked for sharing a meme about homosexuals, adulterer, and liars on social media.
The committed Christian had his $4 million RA contract terminated in May after a post he made on social media citing the Bible was deemed homophobic.
After failing to appeal the decision with a Rugby Australia tribunal, Folau is moving to escalate his challenge by taking his case to the FairWork Commission and has reportedly secured the services of high-profile barristers.
"With the support of my family, I was blessed to have been able to pursue sports as a career".
A GoFundMe page set up by former Australian worldwide Israel Folau to help cover his legal costs has raised nearly $400,000 in two days.
"I believe the termination of my contract is unlawful, which is why I have started legal proceedings against Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW [New South Wales]", Folau said in a message on GoFundMe yesterday.
"But my faith defines me as a person".
More than $645,000 in donations to Israel Folau's online fundraising page has already been donated by 8550 people as of Sunday afternoon.
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.
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"My faith is the most important thing in my life", read Folau's statement. Indeed, what makes our country so wonderful is that we have such a diverse community made up of so many different cultures and values.
"After the first initial incident a year ago, I had a meeting with Raelene and we spoke about the potential effect it could have within the game".
When asked about comments from Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley that criticised his behaviour, Folau responded: "It's quite a shock and, to me, whether or not that was really what they meant, I don't take any of those things personally".
"In response, Rugby Australia have already said that they will "divert significant resources" to fight me in court".
"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).
The move to take legal action is a U-turn on his pledge when he was in negotiations with Rugby Australia and said he would walk away if his comments were an issue for the sport or its partners.
Israel Folau is asking supporters to help fund his legal action against his sacking.
He said his action was "about defending the right to religious freedom", and he needed the money to prepare for a long legal battle after spending over A$100,000 fighting his termination unsuccessfully during RA's code of conduct hearing.