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Israel Folau wants fans to pay $3m legal costs

Reiss Smith June 20, 2019
Israel Folau in the back of a car

Israel Folau leaves after a code of conduct hearing in Sydney on May 7. (Saeed Khan/Getty)

Israel Folau has launched a $3 million (£2.4m) crowdfunder to cover the legal costs of his challenge to Rugby Australia and Rugby New South Wales, after he was sacked over an anti-LGBT Instagram post.

The shamed Australian rugby player was fired on May 17 for sharing an Instagram post telling gay people: “Hell awaits you.”

Following his termination, Folau said that he has spent $100,000 (£79,000) of his own money dealing with Rugby Australia’s internal tribunal processes, and has now started full legal proceedings against the governing body.

He is hoping to raise $3 million “solely to fund the rest of my action in court.”

“I believe the termination of my contract is unlawful, which is why I have started legal proceedings against Rugby Australia and Rugby New South Wales,” he wrote on the GoFundMe page.

“I believe the termination of my contract is unlawful.”

—Israel Folau

“In response, Rugby Australia have already said that they will ‘divert significant resources’ to fight me in court.

“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.”

Israel Folau could sue for $10m

Folau will sue for up to $10 million (£7.9m) in damages, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on June 6.

According to the Australian newspaper, Folau’s four-year contract was worth $5 million (£3.9m). He is suing for loss of earnings as well as “associated exposure and opportunities.”

“The termination has cost Mr Folau the best years of his rugby career, participation at the Rugby World Cup and the chance to become the greatest Wallaby try-scorer (a decades-old record he was likely to break),” said a legal document seen by the Herald.

Israel Folau sacked after anti-LGBT Instagram post

Folau was dropped by Rugby Australia after sharing anti-LGBT rhetoric alongside a bible verse on Instagram.

On April 10 he wrote on the social network: “Those that are living in sin will end up in hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.”

An Instagram post from Israel Folau reading "Warning; Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters, hell awaits you
The Instagram post that ended Israel Folau’s rugby career. (Instagram)

Writing on his crowdfunding page, Folau explained: “Earlier this year, I uploaded some messages from the Bible on my Instagram page. I believe that sharing the Bible is an act of love and compassion.”

Rugby Australia and New South Wales Rugby  issued a statement on April 11 confirming that they intended to terminate Folau’s contract.

“Whilst Israel is entitled to his religious beliefs, the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport,” a statement said. “We want to make it clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts.”

Following this initial statement, Folau was officially let go on May 17 after a hearing in front of a three-person panel.

More: Australia, israel folau, Rugby

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