SYDNEY (AP) — Israel Folau’s controversial funding appeal has raised nearly 470,000 Australian dollars ($323,000) to help the former Wallabies star pay his legal bills in his fight with Rugby Australia over his terminated contract.

After Folau made anti-gay social media comments in March, a hearing determined that Rugby Australia had the right to terminate his four-year contract which Australian media has said was worth about 1 million Australian dollars a year ($693,000).

Folau, who played for New South Wales Waratahs in Super Rugby, said he hopes to raise 3 million Australian dollars ($2 million) through the GoFundMe page for his legal costs in his bid for reinstatement.

Nearly 5,900 people had donated money by early Saturday.

“I believe the termination of my contract is unlawful, which is why I have started legal proceedings against Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW,” Folau wrote on his funding page. “My wife Maria and I have already spent over $100,000 of our own money, and that was just to try and deal with Rugby Australia’s internal tribunal processes. The money I am asking for is solely to fund the rest of my action in court.”

But Folau has been criticized on social media, including by former Wallabies, with some saying he drives a luxury automobile and has a multi-million-dollar property portfolio.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle was also critical.

“From our perspective (GoFundMe) is a place where sick children get support, so it’s certainly not a strategy we think is appropriate,” Castle said.


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