Folau Criticises ‘GoFundMe’
Star Australian Wallabies rugby player Israel Falou has been charged with a high-level breach of his contract over social media posts on April 10. This is the only type of breach in which there are provisions for termination of a contract.
A post from Instagram was the final straw after a series of warnings from Rugby Australia in regard to Folau’s conduct on social media after numerous similar instances.
After being created on June 18, his crowdfunding campaign had raised more than $750,000 from over 7,000 individuals, before being shut down by GoFundMe yesterday. The company will issue refunds to all of the donors.
GoFundMe’s Australian regional manager, Nicola Britton, stated: “After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service,”. She went on to state that GoFundMe highly regarded the push for LGBTQI+ equality, and that an environment of inclusivity should be fostered. “While we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion,”. Over 95,000 people signed an online petition calling on GoFundMe took down Folau’s page indicating that it went against what the company represents, as well as its terms and conditions. The company was particularly pressured to remove the fundraiser as they currently display a pride flag in commemoration of pride month.
Folau has launched legal proceedings with the fair work commission and is seeking damages of up to $10 million dollars from Rugby Australia. One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham, who defended Folau in a speech to parliament earlier this year, suggested GoFundMe’s decision was an “excessive use of corporate power”. He went on to say that “during the SSM campaign, lefties scoffed when I said the absence of religious freedom protections would lead to a reign of terror against Christians. In all aspects of the Folau matters, it’s easy to see what’s happening.”
His former teammate, Drew Mitchell, commented on this issue, “It’s no longer about religion, it’s about your greed’. Despite the backlash Folau received, he has continued to push towards his fundraising goal. In a Sunday Instagram post on Sunday, he said he felt “humbled” and “overwhelmed” by the supporting patrons. “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,” he wrote.
Despite GoFundMe’s efforts of shutting down the cash flow to Folau’s coffers, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) pledged yesterday to give $100,000 dollars to the cause. They also set up a new donation centre which has since received more than the total balance of the GoFundMe that was set up originally.
GoFundMe is a for-profit crowdfunding company, originating from the USA. Their profits come from a 2.9% cut of all donations made by donors. With the ACL now having outdone the original fundraiser value, the question of whether the company would have been better off not changing anything, and using the money for a better cause such as a charity can be debated. However, with 95,000 members of the public protesting, many of who are likely within the target market of GoFundMe, the company has made a favourable decision, upkeeping its’ public relations.
As GoFundMe is not a publicly listed company, it is not possible to assess the political impact on the share price. However, Israel Falou has stated that his fundraiser cancellation will lead him to persist even more in the fighting of his termination. Stating that his legal battle may continue to rage on for multiple years. He has not commented on moving into any other rugby teams at this point in time.
By Will Banham
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