Maria Folau has been condemned by the ANZ bank after she supported her husband Israel Folau’s fundraiser to aid his legal battle against Rugby Australia.
The 32-year-old sports star reposted an image on Instagram which asked her followers to ‘support’ her husband’s cause.
The multinational banking group is understood to have approached New Zealand’s Silver Ferns to criticise the professional netball player for sharing a link to the sacked Wallabies star’s fundraising page on Tuesday.
The bank, which is the biggest sponsor of New Zealand’s internal netball competition, then released a public statement saying the organisation does not support Maria’s views.
Maria Folau (pictured alongside Israel) has been condemned by the ANZ bank after she supported her husband Israel Folau’s fundraiser
The multinational banking group is understood to have approached New Zealand’s Silver Ferns to criticise the professional netball player (pictured)
‘We do not support the views of Silver Fern Maria Folau and have made our views known to her employer Netball NZ,’ ANZ media manager Stefan Herrick said.
The statement was issued despite Maria – who also plays for the Adelaide Thunderbirds – refraining from speaking publicly about her husband’s controversial Instagram post and his subsequent dismissal.
The bank has since been forced to fend off suggestions it was pressuring Netball New Zealand.
‘We value our partnership with Netball NZ and any suggestion we have tried to pressure them is absolutely incorrect,’ they said.
‘We will continue to support Netball NZ and the tens of thousands of participants and supporters of the game.’
HCF health insurance – which sponsors the Adelaide Thunderbirds – is also understood to have contacted Netball Australia after Maria shared the fundraising link.
The organisation said a ‘strong’ and ‘clear’ social media policy should be put in place.
‘We appreciate the complexities of the Folau matter and acknowledge that views do differ in the community, however, we do not support Maria Folau’s stance on this matter,’ a HCF spokesperson said, The Sunday Morning Herald reported.
The bank took matters public and released a statement that explicitly stated the organisation does not support Maria’s (pictured alongside Folau) views
The 32-year-old sports star reposted a post on Instagram which asked her followers to ‘support’ her husband’s cause
‘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.’
Netball Australia responded by stating it was ‘committed’ to the ongoing education and development of players and that it was working ‘closely’ with its partners.
The bank’s statement comes shortly after Maria came under fire from former Australia netball player Liz Ellis.
The national player said by sharing the link to her husband’s fundraising page Maria had engaged in ‘homophobia’.
Former national netball player Liz Ellis (pictured) said by sharing the link to her husband’s fundraising page Maria had engaged in ‘homophobia’
Ellis added that anyone who was seen to be endorsing homophobia was ‘not welcome’ in the sport.
‘As much as I love watching Maria Folau play netball, I do not want my sport endorsing the views of her husband,’ she said.
Netball South Australia, however, stood by Maria.
Netball South Australia chief executive Bronwyn Klei said it wouldn’t be fair to reprimand Maria for sharing the fundraising link – although she noted she was ‘determined’ to maintain an ‘inclusive’ environment.
Netball South Australia, however, stood by Maria (pictured) – who also plays for the Adelaide Thunderbirds
Netball New Zealand had previously issued a statement on Folau’s (pictured alongside Maria) Instagram post
‘While Netball SA in no way endorses the reposting, we do not believe Maria has contravened our social media policy,’ she said.
Netball New Zealand had previously issued a statement on Folau’s Instagram post.
They said while they were aware everyone has ‘differing views and beliefs’ they said it was ‘important’ for those views to be expressed ‘constructively’ and ‘respectfully’.
The various statements come as the Australian Christian Lobby continues to raise money to support Folau’s case.
The page, hosted on the lobby’s website, is on track to hit its target $3million to help the axed rugby star in his legal battle against Rugby Australia.
The fundraiser was launched after the original GoFundMe appeal was removed after it was found to be in breach of the organisation’s terms and conditions.
The original appeal was active on GoFundMe for six days and raised approximately $765,000 before the platform suspended it for breaching its terms of service.
Folau’s new fundraiser reached well over $1million by Tuesday night.
Donations are pouring in at a rate of $1,000 per minute, with funds doubling from $40,000 between 6am and 7am on Tuesday
Donations are pouring in at a rate of $1,000 per minute, with funds doubling from $40,000 between 6am and 7am on Tuesday.
By 10am it had reached $400,000 and by 2pm it exceeded $750,000.
The original fundraiser raised approximately $765,000
The new campaign was set up by ACL managing director Martyn Iles, who said his group would also donate $100,000 to the cause.
Hundreds of supporters, angry with GoFundMe for disabling the initial appeal, said they had doubled or tripled their donations this time around.
‘We gave twice what we were going to give,’ one said.
‘I have now donated more than double the amount I had previously donated,’ added another.
‘Israel’s case is our case if we want to live free and embrace our beliefs without fear of being marginalised or discriminated against,’ Iles said.
He wrote on the page: ‘Recently the online fundraising platform GoFundMe shut down Israel Folau’s legal defence fund and turned away hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles (left with Folau) confirmed the organisation will kick off a new fund with a $100,000 donation
‘On behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby, I have spoken to Israel Folau to let him know that ACL will be donating $100,000 to his legal defence, because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent.
‘I have also offered to host his online appeal for funds here on our website and he has accepted our offer.
The Christian lobby is using Folau as a pawn to further their right-wing agenda
Christian priest speaking to Daily Mail
‘All gifts you give on this web page will be deposited into a trust account to pay for Israel Folau’s legal case.
‘So, please give generously today to help Israel Folau stand for your religious freedom.’
The ACL, based in Canberra, has 135,000 members and aims to influence politics with Christian beliefs.
Gosford priest Rod Bower slammed the group, saying it was just using Folau in its wider battle against gay rights.
GoFundMe announced on Monday it was pulling Folau’s campaign (pictured) and issuing full refunds to the thousands of donors
‘They have been behind this all the way along,’ he told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday.
‘He’s a pawn in their game – he acted and they jumped on it to use him to further their own conservative agenda.
‘They are trying to force the government’s hand to change the law and effectively legalise homophobia. If they are successful, vulnerable people will pay.’
More than 95,000 people signed an online petition calling on GoFundMe to take down the page, noting its purpose was against the website’s terms and conditions.
‘After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service,’ GoFundMe Australia’s regional manager Nicola Britton said in a statement.
‘GoFundMe has buckled’: Israel Folau’s statement in full
The decision of GoFundMe to cancel Israel’s fundraising campaign to support his Legal Action Fund is very disappointing.
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.
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.
Further, Israel’s website has been the target of what we believe was a sustained cyberattack 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 interesting in supporting Israel’s efforts to raise money for his ongoing legal case.
‘As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity.
‘While we welcome GoFundMe’s engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion,’ she said.
Folau wanted money to fund his legal battle against Rugby Australia, which terminated his $4million contract in May.
He has launched legal proceedings with the Fair Work Commission and is seeking up to $10million in damages.
Folau was sacked for posting a meme on Instagram stating that hell awaited ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters’ unless they repented.
A spokesman for Folau said the decision to cancel the GoFundMe campaign was very disappointing.
‘We do not tolerate discrimination’: GoFundMe’s statement on Folau
Today we will be closing Israel Folau’s campaign and issuing full refunds to all donors. 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 the days since Mr Folau’s campaign launched, more than one million dollars have been donated to hundreds of other campaigns, large and small, across Australia. Those acts of kindness are the heart of GoFundMe.
Our platform exists to help people help others. Australians have shown themselves to be among the most kind and generous people in the world. We look forward to helping more Australians fundraise for causes they care about in the coming months and years.
Despite being a muti-millionaire with a $6million property portfolio, Folau asked regular Australians to pay $3million for his legal fees via a GoFundMe campaign