Sacked Wallabies star Israel Folau has vowed to ‘fight for what is right’ in his legal dispute with Rugby Australia, aiming to raise $3m (£1.64m) to go towards solicitor fees.
In a YouTube video posted on Thursday, the 73-cap full-back revealed he has already spent over $100,000 (£55,000) of his own money in the lost battle to save his career in rugby union and has turned to the public to support his case.
Folau stirred controversy for a second time with his religious views regarding homosexuality in May leading the union to take action, having previously warned the Waratahs back of his responsibilities.
Rugby Australia was backed by an independent panel in its decision to terminate Folau’s £2.15m contract on a the grounds of breaching the body’s code of conduct.
But free agent Folau has now launched proceedings with the Fair Work Commission seeking damages from the fallout of his sacking, and is prepared to go to court if a settlement can’t be reached.
“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, posted under the title ‘Israel Folau – Looking for your support’.
“Every Australian should be free to practice their religion without fear of discrimination in the workplace.
“Unfortunately, because of my religious beliefs, it looks like I will not be given the opportunity to represent Australia again.
“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.
“Since my contract was terminated by Rugby Australia, I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the support I have 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 that I’m not just fighting for my future and my family, I’m fighting for what’s right.
“But I can’t do it alone.”
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