Today, Israel Folau, owner of a multimillion dollar property portfolio and until recently the highest-paid rugby player in the world, launched a campaign to have the public fund his aggressive legal campaign against Rugby Australia.
This saga began in March, when Rugby Australia made the decision to release Folau from his contract following the latest in a series of homophobic social media posts. This began with a refusal to support gay marriage in September 2017, and became a constant feature of his feeds. Folau repeatedly stated all LGBT+ individuals “deserve” to go to hell, and comparing homosexuals to the likes of thieves, liars, drunkards, and adulterers. Around the time of the decision, I made this video explaining the case
, and why Rugby Australia’s decision should be applauded. Perhaps it includes a few more uses of the word ‘Twatbag’ than is considered civil, but it was important to me to get the point across.Folau has not let up or slowed down since he lost his contract
. A few days ago, Folau said the devil is responsible for transgenderism
, and has begun to give touring church sermons, preaching his hate in a place built for worship and love. He also made the decision to take legal action against Rugby Australia, despite saying the following immediately after their decision was made public-
"After we’d all talked, I told [Rugby Australia chief executive] Raelene [Castle] if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn’t be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately,"
If Folau wins, the payout and court fees could well bankrupt the union, which would certainly hurt Rugby Australia. He had previously stated that if it was “God’s plan” for him to no longer play rugby professionally, he would accept that and move on. Hence, not only has he lied, he has also made the blasphemous decision to walk against God’s plan for him.Rugby regularly labels itself as an inclusive sport, one that supports people from all walks of life
. And, so, to me, personally, Rugby Australia’s felt like a landmark moment. One of the sport’s governing bodies taking a stand, and showing that even arguably their nation’s highest-profile player is not above consequences for betraying the core inclusive values of the game. That is why I believe it is important that we, as fans, make the message clear
. Intolerance such as Folau’s is not welcome in rugby. Folau does not need the money
- He’s an internationally famous athlete with an estimated net worth of seven million dollars. Ignored in all this legal bother, however, are the individuals who may have been made to feel, with such a high-profile player spouting such bile, that they were not a part of the rugby community, that they were not welcome, when nothing could be further from the case.As such, I want to show Folau that rugby is an inclusive sport, and raise money for pro-LGBT+ causes
. Primarily, I want to donate to Stonewall
, the charity responsible for the rainbow laces initiative adopted across sport. Their mission is to make it clear to LGBT individuals that they are not alone, that they are supported, seen, and understood. This includes increasing inclusivity in sport, be that rugby or otherwise. As I mention in the video
, we cannot know what damage Folau’s comments may have had
, and it’s important we support those looking to undo that damage and aid those who need help being able to be themselves.
For the sake of anyone's peace of mind, any money raised is set to go straight to Stonewall, never myself. So when Israel Folau rocks up to court in a brand new Aston Martin and people begin to wonder where that money really went, you can check this page and rest safe in the knowledge that I’m instead still trying to pass myself off as being eligible for student prices on the bus.
I have set the goal to $3 million AUD just to match Folau’s overambitious aims. I don’t expect for a moment that we’ll reach this ‘target’, but the real aim is just to raise more funds than Folau
. The money will be going to a good cause, and it’ll send the message once and for all: If he wants to continue to use his profile and platform to preach hate, Israel Folau picked the wrong sport, because intolerance such as his will never be tolerated in rugby.
Creator of the Squidge Rugby YouTube channel