Israel Folau, who was sacked by Rugby Australia following a homophobic social media post, is crowdfunding A$3 million (US$2.1 million) to pursue a legal battle against the governing body.
Folau, a devout Christian who has been capped 73 times by his country, was found guilty of a code of conduct breach and stripped of his contract last month for an Instagram post that said “hell awaits” gay people.
“My fight with Rugby Australia to defend my right to practice my religion has so far cost my wife Maria and me over A$100,000 in legal fees,” Folau says in the video.
“Rugby Australia has an army of lawyers at their disposal and they have already said they will divert significant resources to fight me in court.
“The cost to me and my family of continuing my legal action against Rugby Australia is expected to be significant.”
Rugby Australia didn’t immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
In an April Instagram post, which has not been deleted, Folau listed “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters,” underneath which was written “Hell awaits you.”
The 30-year-old’s contract lasted until 2022 and he was expected to play a leading role with the Wallabies at the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
Folau was also stripped of sponsorship deals with car manufacturer Land Rover and sportswear brand Asics. He is reportedly seeking A$10 million (US$7 million) in damages from the legal battle.
“As Australians, we’re born with the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression,” Folau added.
“The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s word. Rugby Australia tore up my employment contract for doing just that, and that’s wrong.
“Every Australian should be able to practice their religion without fear of discrimination in the workplace.”
Folau’s brother John, a teammate of the fullback at the NSW Waratahs, was recently granted immediate release from his club contract, with coach Daryl Gibson stating that the 24-year-old had “divided loyalties to his family and his brother, but then also to the team.”