Israel Folau has claimed his personal website was hit with a ‘sustained cyberattack’ and that there has been a deliberate attempt to ‘vilify’ his wife Maria in the wake of his GoFundMe page being shut down.
The ousted Wallabies star had set up the crowdfunding page to bankroll his upcoming court case against Rugby Australia, but came under heavy criticism for doing so.
The page was taken down by GoFundMe on Monday morning, with the website saying Folau had breached their terms of service.
CHEEKY DIG: GoFundMe's stunning takedown of Israel Folau
In a statement released on Monday afternoon, Folau said his critics had ‘hardened his resolve’.
“The decision of GoFundMe to cancel Israel’s fundraising campaign to support his Legal Action Fund is very disappointing,” it read.
“The fundraising campaign was in line with GoFundMe’s terms and conditions, as well as all relevant rules and regulations.
“There appears to be a continuing campaign of discrimination against Israel and his supporters.
“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.”
Folau supporters outraged
Some of Israel Folau’s most high-profile supporters have hit out at GoFundMe’s decision to remove his page.
Thousands of people who donated money to help Israel Folau fund his legal fight against Rugby Australia will get their money back, after GoFundMe shut down his online campaign on Monday.
The former Wallabies star launched his appeal for $3 million on Friday and had raised more than $750,000 within four days.
statement from Israel Folau re: GoFundMe:— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) June 24, 2019
- claims his website was targeted by "a sustained cyberattack"
- says criticism has "hardened his resolve"
- other organisations may help him fundraise @10NewsFirst https://t.co/neJpY14uCE pic.twitter.com/RiZVVsFnAo
But the fundraising platform said on Monday it was pulling the campaign and issuing full refunds to the more than 7000 donors.
"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.
"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."
More than 95,000 people had signed an online petition calling on GoFundMe to take down Folau's page, noting its purpose was against the website's terms and conditions.
However One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham, who defended Folau in his maiden speech to parliament earlier this year, suggested GoFundMe's decision was an "excessive use of corporate power".
"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 matter, it's easy to see what's happening," he tweeted.