The Australia men’s football team will donate a percentage of their match fees from their World Cup qualifier against Palestine towards humanitarian efforts in Gaza.
Australia will play Palestine in Kuwait on Tuesday in a game that has been moved from its original venue in the West Bank, due to the escalation of violence in the region.
The players’ union, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), have confirmed players will donate a percentage of match fees to Oxfam’s humanitarian work in Gaza, via the PFA’s Footballers’ Trust.
Football Australia, the governing body for football in the nation, will match the donation from the players — who have driven the initiative.
“It’s unfathomable to comprehend,” PFA president and international midfielder Jackson Irvine, said of the conflict.
“You’re talking about one of the most complicated geopolitical issues of the last 100 years.
“It’s something we’re aware of, something we have spoken about as a group and as staff in terms of not just the game, but recognising what that means for us.
“Even thinking about the Palestinian players themselves and what this game means for them as individuals and trying to process playing football in a time like this. It’s a difficult situation to process.
“But for us as players we’ve spoken about it and through the PFA we will approach some kind of contribution or awareness of trying to play some role.”
Irvine, who plays domestically for German second division side St. Pauli, reiterated that the threat to civilian life was at the forefront of the team’s stance.
“At the end of the day, I support any humanitarian cause,” the midfielder said. “The deaths of civilians is a tragedy in any conflict and that’s got to be the priority of the conversation.
“We’re aware of the situation, we understand that football in this moment is probably not the priority in some ways. But at the end of the day, we’ve got a game to win and a performance to focus on.
“Everything has been put in place in terms of security and safety. So we know that we can go out and focus on that.”
Australia beat Bangladesh 7-0 in Melbourne on Thursday in their first group stage match of AFC World Cup qualification, with Palestine and Lebanon completing the group.
“The thoughts of the PFA are with all of those impacted by the conflict and the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding as a result,” PFA co-chief executive officer Beau Busch said in a statement ahead of Tuesday’s clash against Palestine.
“Aid agencies and humanitarian groups have been clear on the scale of need and the players were able to play a part.
“The Socceroos have long used their platform for positive impact and this is another example of their commitment to Australian football being a force for good.”
Ahead of last year’s World Cup, the Australian squad issued a strong statement of protest over the human rights record of host nation Qatar.
The squad collectively raised concerns about the “suffering” of migrant workers in the nation and the inability in Qatar of LGBTI+ people “to love the person that they choose”.
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