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Rugby Player Fired for Homophobia Asks Fans for $3 Million

israel folau

But Rugby Australia is not backing down

Israel Folau, one of the highest paid players in Australian rugby was fired from the sport in May after making homophobic and transphobic comments on social media. Now, Folau is launching a a crowdfunding effort to sue for loss of earnings.

In April, Folau posted a graphic to Instagram that, among other things, said that "Hell awaits" homosexuals -- the listing grouped homosexuals with drunks, adulterers and liars. He later went to Twitter posting tweets that inferred that trans people were "evil." The post illicitied widespread condemnation but his employers, Rugby Australia and North South Wales Rugby Union, also responded.

"We want everyone to feel safe and welcome in our game and no vilification based on race, gender, religion or sexuality is acceptable and no language that isolates divides or insults people based on any of those factors can be tolerated," they wrote in a release. They went on to say that having warned Folau prior about his statements, they intended to terminate his contract "in the absence of compelling mitigating factors." That termination went through in May. Now, Folau is hitting back.

Instead of standing down, the rugby player who was reportedly the highest paid player in Australia, has leaned into his position. Folau has taken up suit against the league in an effort to recover lost wages from the remainder of his $5 million contract as well as the possible endorsement deals that could have been coming his way. According to him, that fight has already cost him 100,000 in Austrailian dollars, but now he needs more.

On Thursday Folau published a GoFundMe for the legal action asking for $3 million. "The money I am asking for is solely to fund the rest of my action in court," he wrote saying that the case will likely be a long and protracted one, possibly ending up in the High Court of Australia. In just a day he has raised over $450,000.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the player is seeking up to $10 million. But Rugby Australia seems intent on holding the line.

"He was bound by a code of conduct for all professional players in Australia that spells out clear guidelines and obligations regarding player behavior, including respectful use of social media," they said in a statement. "An independent panel, having sat for 22 hours and heard testimony from several witnesses and reviewed over 1,000 pages of evidence, determined that Israel's conduct constituted a high-level breach of the code of conduct and ordered termination of his playing contract."

RELATED | Australia's Highest Paid Rugby Player to be Fired for Anti-LGBTQ+ Post

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