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Thunderbirds distance themselves from Folau over Go Fund Me post

Maria Folau
Adelaide Thunderbirds shooter Maria Folau. PHOTO: Adelaide Thunderbirds

THE Adelaide Thunderbirds have distanced themselves from the views of their star shooter Maria Folau, after she shared her husband Israel’s controversial Go Fund Me post on social media earlier this week.

Maria, who missed what would have been the game-winning shot in the T-Birds’ draw with the NSW Swifts this afternoon, has publicly backed Israel’s push to raise funds to support his ongoing legal fight against Rugby Australia.

It comes after the former Wallaby was sacked for sharing an Instagram post stating “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators” would go to hell for their actions, which the sporting body deemed to be in breach of its social media policy.

The Folaus have come under significant scrutiny for using Go Fund Me to collect money for Israel’s legal battle – with the website more commonly used to fundraise for medical procedures for those who can’t afford it – and they have so far accrued almost $700,000.

Today, Netball SA chief executive Bronwyn Klei said while the organisation “in no way endorses the reposting, we do not believe Maria has contravened our social media policy”.

“First and foremost, I want to be very clear that Netball South Australia is fiercely determined to provide an inclusive environment that allows anyone to participate in the great game of netball regardless of gender, religious belief, age, race or sexual orientation,” she said.

“We also believe in fairness and perspective.

“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.

“This week, she shared her husband’s controversial Go-Fund-Me post.

“Netball SA is not endorsing Maria’s repost.”

Ms Klei added Netball SA would continue to back its star shooter, regardless of her views.

“Maria is a key member of the Thunderbirds,” she said.

“Not only has she provided great strength and leadership on court, she attends and works with netballing clinics, spends a lot of time with fans, engages with local communities and passionately encourages young kids with their netball dreams.

“We continue to support her as we support all our players.”

On Go Fund Me, Israel said “I have the fight of my life on my hands”, claiming the Bible messages he posted on Instagram were “an act of love and compassion”.

“I know some people do not like or believe in the Bible,” he said.

“Indeed, what makes our country so wonderful is that we have such a diverse community made up of so many different cultures and values.

“But my faith defines me as a person.

“I do not believe that it is fair or right that I be punished for my religious beliefs. 

“I believe the termination of my contract is unlawful, which is why I have started legal proceedings against Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW.”

He said Rugby Australia had “already said that they will ‘divert significant resources’ to fight me in court”, hence his public plea.

“I know I am putting myself on the line – this action will be very costly in terms of time, money and reputation – but I do not intend to stop now.”

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Grady grew up in Bordertown in the state’s South East, around 10 minutes from the Victorian border, and is a Geelong Cats tragic and a lover of sports. Grady has worked in the journalism field for more than six years at a number of regional newspapers. He plays cricket for Trinity Old Scholars, and doesn’t mind teeing it up at some of the fantastic golf courses scattered across Adelaide and its surrounding regions.