Israel Folau has launched a GoFundMe page to raise A$3m in order to cover his legal costs in his fight against his sacking by Rugby Australia for posting on social media that homosexuals will go to hell.
The former Australian rugby player had his contract terminated last month after the latest in a string of social media posts that expressed homophobic views, with the 30-year-old failing in an appeal to have his sacking overturned.
As a result, RA tore up his A$1.25m (£682,000) per year contract, having previously warned him for his conduct on social media after expressing similar homophobic views in Instagram.
He is now taking the case to the Fair Word Commission in the hope of reaching an agreement with RA, though is prepared to take them to the High Court if he is unsuccessful.
As first reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Folau has now launched a fundraising effort in order to cover his legal fees, which are expected to stretch into millions of Australian dollars.
In a video released as part of the campaign, Folau revealed that he has already spent A$100,000 (£54,600) of his own money in trying to overturn his ban, despite initially informing RA chief executive Raelene Castle that he was prepared to walk away from the sport if his position had “become untenable” for the governing body due to sponsor pressure.
“I know I am putting myself on the line - this action will be very costly in terms of time, money and reputation - but I do not intend to stop now,” Folau said in the video explaining his decision.
“I would be very grateful for your support. Could you make a donation, within your capacity to give, in order to support my action? I have the fight of my life on my hands and every little bit will help.
“Even if I win, Rugby Australia can appeal. There is every chance that a prominent test case like this could take years and eventually end up in the High Court of Australia.
“My wife Maria and I have already spent over $100,000 of our own money, and that was just to try and deal with Rugby Australia’s internal tribunal processes. The money I am asking for is to fund the rest of my action in court.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
He added: “Rugby Australia has an army of lawyers at their disposal and they have already said they will divert significant resources to fight me in court. The cost to me and my family of continuing my legal action against Rugby Australia is expected to be significant.
“Since my contract was terminated I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the support received from family, friends, fans and the public. Even people who don’t share my beliefs have defended my right to uphold and express them.
“They made me realise I’m not just fighting for my future and my family; I’m fighting for what is right. But I can’t do it alone.”
At time of writing, Folau had raised A$310, A$2,999,690 short of his initial target.
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