Israel Folau: Rugby star recoups donations in sacking row

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Israel Folau smiles as he catches a rugby ballImage source, EPA
Image caption,
Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia for his social media posts

A second fundraiser for sacked rugby player Israel Folau has drawn more donations within 24 hours than a previous campaign that was shut down on Monday.

Folau had his contract terminated by Rugby Australia (RA) in May after he said that "hell awaits" gay people.

He has since controversially sought donations for a legal battle with RA.

Crowdfunding website GoFundMe shut down his first campaign, but a conservative Christian group has begun a new effort.

Folau is a Christian who argues his contract termination was an unlawful act of religious discrimination.

His case has prompted intense public debate. RA argues the former Wallaby breached behaviour standards "including respectful use of social media" by making anti-gay posts.

On Tuesday, an Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) fundraising campaign had raised more than A$760,000 (£414,000; $530,000) in donations.

"We are ensuring that the voice of quiet Australians continues to be heard, and Israel Folau continues to know that he is not alone," said managing director Martyn Iles.

The amount includes a A$100,000 donation by the ACL itself, which is among vocal supporters of Folau.

Media caption,
Martyn Iles, managing director of Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), explains why he launched the website

However, the star full-back's repeated anti-gay posts on social media have also drawn widespread condemnation.

Earlier this month, Folau filed a case against Rugby Australia and Rugby New South Wales at the Fair Work Commission - Australia's national workplace relations tribunal.

"Every Australian should be able to practise their religion without fear of discrimination in the workplace," he said in a video last week.

RA chief executive Raelene Castle has consistently defended the decision to "stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork".

Media caption,
How do you get rid of homophobia in football and rugby?

On Monday, GoFundMe said Folau's fundraising campaign breached its terms of service by promoting the "discrimination or exclusion" of LGBT people. It said it would refund all donations.

Folau has played 73 Tests for Australia and was on a contract estimated to be worth A$5m. He owns a multi-million dollar property portfolio in Sydney and Brisbane, Australian media reported.