The ANZ bank has released a statement distancing itself from Maria Folau and her husband’s views with the financial institution contacting New Zealand’s Silver Ferns netball team to condemn the netball star.
The Silver Ferns and Adelaide Thunderbirds star hasn’t made a statement regarding her husband’s social media posts which resulted in his sacking from the Wallabies, yet the bank has taken a proactive approach in trying to protect their brand.
ANZ is the largest sponsor of New Zealand’s domestic netball competition and deemed it necessary to contact officials at NZ Netball to complain about how she shared a link to drum up support for her husband’s fundraising efforts in his attempt to fight his sacking by Rugby Australia. Despite being unhappy with the coverage surrounding Folau and the wider implications it may have, the bank said they would continue to support netball.
“We do not support the views of Silver Fern Maria Folau and have made our views known to her employer Netball NZ,” ANZ media manager Stefan Herrick said in a statement.
“We value our partnership with Netball NZ and any suggestion we have tried to pressure them is absolutely incorrect,” he added.
“We will continue to support Netball NZ and the tens of thousands of participants and supporters of the game.”
While Netball New Zealand disagreed with Israel Folau’s original post, it defended Ms Folau.
“We acknowledge that people have differing views and beliefs. It is important those opinions and views are expressed in constructive and respectful ways,” a spokeswoman said.
Netball South Australia chief executive Bronwyn Klei said she supported having a diverse and inclusive environment within netball ranks but also deemed it harsh to punish Ms Folau for sharing the link.
“We also believe in fairness and perspective,” Ms Klei said.
“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 GoFundMe post.
“While Netball SA in no way endorses the reposting, we do not believe Maria has contravened our social media policy.”
Mrs Folau’s post sharing a link to her husband’s fundraising efforts has caused uproar among Netball’s elite, with former Australian captain Liz Ellis slamming the post, claiming it was supporting homophobia.
“There is no room for homophobia in our game … anyone who is seen to support or endorse homophobia is not welcome,” Ellis said.
“As much as I love watching Maria Folau play netball, I do not want my sport endorsing the views of her husband.”
Donations for Folau’s legal case against Rugby Australia has nearly reached $1.5 million through a website run by the Australian Christian Lobby. The ACL set up the site after Folau’s GoFundMe page was taken down.
The new donations site was accumulating $1000 a minute on Tuesday, passing the million dollar mark within a few hours.