Former Wallabies star Israel Folau’s GoFundMe page has been removed from the site and the company is set to refund all received donations after deeming the campaign violated its terms of service.
Folau started the page last Thursday, appealing for AUS$3 million in donation to aid his legal battle against former employer Rugby Australia.
The 30-year-old has launched an unfair dismissal claim against Rugby Australia for terminating his multi-million dollar contract over a series of controversial tweets.
His campaign had courted controversy since its activation, with former Wallabies team-mate Drew Mitchell one of the most vocal critic.
A petition was also created to appeal to GoFundMe to shut the page down and Folau’s netballer wife Maria was also embroiled in the controversy after sharing the social media post.
GoFundMe released a statement on Monday morning confirming the decision and saying that they “do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.”
“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,” Nicola Britton, GoFundMe’s Australia Regional Manager said.
“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.”
Folau took to Instagram to thank his contributors when the fund had reached AUS$500,000 over the weekend.
“Thank you to all those who have given to my Legal Action Fund so far,” he wrote.
“I am humbled and overwhelmed by the support I have received, for which I am very grateful.
“Unsurprisingly, I have been criticised by Rugby Australia and some sections of the media overnight.
“I decided to take legal action when Rugby Australia terminated my employment contract and ended my playing career after I expressed my religious beliefs on social media.
“I have received thousands of messages from supporters who believe discrimination in the workplace is wrong and has no place in Australia or anywhere else.
“Sadly, Rugby Australia have said that they will devote significant resources to fight me in court.
“This shows I have a long and hard battle on my hands, which is why I am asking for your support.”