The “quiet Australians” are still backing Israel Folau’s bid to raise $3 million for his legal battle against Rugby Australia after ANZ bank denied pressuring netball officials over his wife’s support.
The bank, one of the big four in Australia, sponsors Netball NZ and Maria Folau plays for the Silver Ferns national team, as well as the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
ANZ bank has distanced itself from Kiwi netballer Maria Folau over her support for husband Israel. https://t.co/vpEtWAleUX
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) June 25, 2019
“We value our partnership with Netball NZ and any suggestion we have tried to pressure them is absolutely incorrect,” ANZ said in a statement on Wednesday, June 26.
The ex-Wallaby claims he’s in the “fight of my life” against Rugby Australia, which pulled his $4 million contract in May after the committed Christian posted a Bible passage on social media and was criticised for being homophobic.
— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) June 20, 2019
The post said “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” would go to hell unless they repented.
Maria Folau has made no public statements on her husband’s plight—which he says is discrimination on religious grounds—but did repost two links to her husband’s fundraising campaign five days ago.
Israel Folau is trying to build a $3 million war chest to support his unfair dismissal case against Rugby Australia, which he believes could go all the way to the High Court.
The star rugby back also wants up to $10 million in damages.
It’s been a rocky road this week for Folau after his first fundraiser on GoFundMe was pulled by the platform for breaching its terms of services after raising more than $750,000.
But the Australian Christian Lobby put its website resources behind a campaign relaunch and by midday of Wednesday, June 26, had helped raised more than $1.75 million.
Folau said he was humbled by the support, thanking those who have donated and the ACL for coming to his aid.
“To those who have criticised me, I bear no ill will towards you. You have every right to express your own beliefs and opinions,” he posted on Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
I am humbled by the support I have received from so many of you since Rugby Australia terminated my employment contract after I shared a religious message on social media. To those who have criticised me, I bear no ill will towards you. You have every right to express your own beliefs and opinions. To the thousands of you who donated to my GoFundMe campaign, I am forever grateful. GoFundMe’s decision to shut down my campaign proves the importance of my case; whether you share my faith or believe in my right to express it, attempts to sanction what we believe is a threat to all Australians. I am incredibly thankful for the Australian Christian Lobby, which has not only come to my defence in the media, but generously established a website to receive donations on my behalf. For those not in a position to donate, your support and prayers will make more of a difference than anything else. God bless!
ACL head Martyn Iles said the average donation was just below $100 and the number of donors was being clocked at 10 per minute.
“The quiet Australians are speaking with their wallets,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program.
“There’s a lot of juice left in this.”
The Australian Christian Lobby says Israel Folau’s fundraising campaign is about “creating a grassroots support network, raising the profile of the case and giving people a voice to buy into the whole thing”. pic.twitter.com/WSNxNjbkPL
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) June 23, 2019
Iles also weighed in on ANZ, saying Israel’s wife shouldn’t be targeted on what the ACL views as a religious freedom issue.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all. This is precisely the reason why people are supporting Israel Folau,” he told Nine’s Today show.
“It is all under this language of inclusion, but not so inclusive they can include somebody with beliefs they disagree with.”
ANZ said while it continued to support Netball NZ, “we do not support any views or actions that can be interpreted as supporting homophobia.”
Meanwhile, Netball Australia sponsor HCF has also come out against Maria Folau, saying it had made it clear it doesn’t support her stance.
“There is no place in our society for discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of gender, religious belief, age, race or sexual orientation,” the health insurer told The Sydney Morning Herald.