Rugby star Israel Folau has said he’s “disappointed” by GoFundMe’s decision to shut down his crowdfunding campaign, and has claimed he was targeted in a cyber attack.
The rugby star set up a GoFundMe page last week to raise money for his legal battle against Rugby Australia, who terminated his $4 million dollar contract over a number of anti-LGBTIQ+ posts he made on social media.
However, this week GoFundMe pulled the campaign and said it would refund almost $700,000 in donations.
The fundraising platform said it pulled down Folau’s page because it violated its terms of service.
“Today we will be closing Israel Folau’s campaign and issuing full refunds to all donors,” GoFundMe Australia regional manager Nicola Britton told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service.
“As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity.
“While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.”
In response, Folau’s camp rejected GoFundMe’s decision and claimed his campaign breached no terms of service.
“The decision of GoFundMe to cancel Israel’s fundraising campaign to support his Legal Action Fund is very disappointing,” a spokesperson said.
“The fundraising campaign was in line with GoFundMe’s Terms and Conditions as well as all relevant rules and regulations.
“Unfortunately, GoFundMe has buckled to demands against the freedom of Australians to donate to his cause.
“There appears to be a continuing campaign of discrimination against Israel and his supporters.
“Israel Folau is very grateful to the 10,000-plus supporters who believed in good faith that their donations would contribute to his case against Rugby Australia.”
Folau also claimed he had been subject to a denial of service attack, which was understood to have taken his team 12 hours to rectify last week.
“Since requesting public donations to help him with his legal action against Rugby Australia, Israel and his supporters have come under intense scrutiny in the media,” the spokesperson said.
“Further, Israel’s website has been the target of what we believe was a sustained cyber attack and there has been a deliberate attempt to vilify his wife Maria for supporting her husband.
“While Israel does not intend to respond in detail at this time regarding the accusations thrown at him or his family, he wants it known that these attacks have hardened his resolve.
“Thankfully, several organisations have already expressed interest in supporting Israel’s efforts to raise money for his ongoing legal case.”