Netball New Zealand are standing by Maria Folau despite concerns from a major sponsor over her public support for Israel’s fundraising efforts.
The Kiwi netball star, who plays for the Adelaide Thunderbirds, shared a GoFundMe page over the weekend that had been set up to raise funds for Israel’s legal fight against Rugby Australia.
$1000 PER MINUTE: New Israel Folau fundraiser eclipses GoFundMe page
That move sparked concerns that Maria was promoting homophobia, but her employers have quashed calls to take action against her.
“Maria Folau has not breached NNZ policy,” they said on Tuesday.
“Netball New Zealand values inclusion and diversity across all areas of the community and our sport whether its gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality, religion, and we take responsibility as role models for young New Zealanders very seriously.
“We acknowledge that people have differing views and beliefs. It is important those opinions and views are expressed in constructive and respectful ways.”
ANZ, one of Netball New Zealand’s major sponsors, reportedly took action after Maria’s actions.
A spokesman told Stuff.co.nz it “does not support the views of Silver Fern Maria Folau” and made that known to Netball NZ.
Another sponsor, software company MYOB, apparently “reminded Netball NZ that it expects it to share and express its values of diversity, tolerance and inclusion.”
‘Not good enough’
Netball NZ’s response comes after Aussie great Liz Ellis slammed the sport's peak body in Australia after it refused to sanction Maria.
Netball Australia and the Super Netball league said no action would be taken in a joint statement released on Sunday.
"Yeah nah not good enough," former Australian Diamonds captain Liz Ellis wrote on social media in response.
"There is no room for homophobia in our game. Anyone who is seen to support or endorse homophobia is not welcome," she said.
Yeah nah not good enough.— Liz Ellis (@LizzyLegsEllis) June 23, 2019
How about this:
There is no room for homophobia in our game. Anyone who is seen to support or endorse homophobia is not welcome. As much as I love watching @MariaFolau play netball I do not want my sport endorsing the views of her husband. pic.twitter.com/IR5jecVm6O
The former captain of the national team and the Sydney Swifts said while she loved watching Maria Folau play she did not want her sport endorsing the views of her husband.
Israel Folau's $4 million contract was torn up in May after one of his social media posts citing the Bible was deemed homophobic.
"We will continue to support Maria as a valued member of the Thunderbirds and the Suncorp Super Netball league," the joint statement read.
Netball South Australia chief executive Bronwyn Klei also weighed in on the controversy, defending her organisation as committed to providing an inclusive environment.
"We also believe in fairness and perspective," she said, shortly before Folau took to the court for the Thunderbirds clash with the NSW Swifts in Adelaide on Sunday.
"Like millions of other people across Australia, Maria Folau uses her personal social media platform to share her life and beliefs with her family, friends and fans."
Ms Klei made clear Netball SA does not endorse the post, but said the social media policy has not been contravened.
"Maria is a key member of the Thunderbirds," she said.
"We continue to support her as we support all our players."