Basmah Qazi

Money & Banking

Waleed Aly weighs in on Israel Folau controversy: “What exactly has been achieved?”

Waleed Aly weighs in on Israel Folau controversy: “What exactly has been achieved?”

Waleed Aly has given his two cents on the controversy surrounding Israel Folau, as he questioned “what exactly has been achieved” by GoFundMe as they removed the sport star’s fundraising page.

On Monday, Folau’s crowdfunding campaign was taken down from the website with Nicola Britton, GoFundMe Australia’s regional manager, saying it “violates our terms of service”.

The former athlete had reached out to the public for support, asking them to donate whatever they could to help him achieve his goal of $3 million. The money was said to fund his legal battle against Rugby Australia, who terminated his Wallabies contract after he posted on Instagram that “hell awaits” homosexuals.

Discussing the incident on Monday’s episode of The Project, host Steve Price said he has never come across “an issue that has so divided the country”.

“You’re either in the free speech or you’re in the Israel Folau has done the wrong thing against his employer and the contract (camp), and I just think it has split the country down the middle,” said Price.

Aly chimed in, saying that regardless of which side you choose to take, GoFundMe’s decision would have enormous implications.

“Forget about the camps and just step back, whatever your view is. So now this page has been taken down, what exactly has been achieved?” he said.

“He’ll still raise the funds, he’ll raise probably more … I feel like everyone is trying to win every little skirmish in the battle rather than letting it play out.

“He will go off to court, he’ll end up in court, and there will be a resolution to this that way. I’m just not sure what either side thinks this is achieving.”

Meanwhile, Peter Helliar didn’t seem to agree with those sentiments, saying GoFundMe’s decision was due to the organisation taking personal responsibility and not having their name smeared in the mud.

After removing Folau’s campaign, GoFundMe featured the rainbow flag on each of its social media accounts.

“This is about GoFundMe being a private enterprise and putting their flag in the sand and saying this is where we stand,” Helliar said.

But Price disagreed, saying that “if you went through every GoFundMe cause that’s been up there for years, however long they’ve been running, I’m sure you could find plenty that you’d think were unacceptable.”

“It’s the number of sets of eyes being on this particular one and obviously GoFundMe felt the heat,” Lisa Wilkinson chimed in.

Aly stated that “there might be more eyes on (Folau’s cause) now"...

“But that’s the paradox of these things,” he added.