Australian national team donates to Gaza humanitarian causes ahead of WCup qualifier vs Palestine

Fri, Nov 17, 2023
Soccer News (AP)

Australian national team donates to Gaza humanitarian causes ahead of WCup qualifier vs Palestine

SYDNEY (AP) - Players on Australia's national soccer team will donate a portion of their match fees from a World Cup qualifier against Palestine towards humanitarian causes in Gaza.

Australia plays Palestine in Kuwait on Tuesday in a game that was going to be held in the West Bank but was relocated due to the escalation of violence in the region.

Hamas' deadly attack on Israel's southern region on Oct. 7 was followed by Israel declaring war on the group and launching retaliatory strikes on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian health officials say more than 11,000 residents in Hamas-controlled Gaza have been killed in air and artillery strikes.

"It's unfathomable to comprehend," midfielder Jackson Irvine was quoted by Australian Associated Press as saying Saturday. "You're talking about one of the most complicated geopolitical issues of the last 100 years."

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The players' union, Professional Footballers Australia, confirmed a percentage of player match fees would be directed towards Oxfam's humanitarian efforts in Gaza, via the PFA's Footballers' Trust. The move is a player-led effort with Football Australia matching the players' donation, but no dollar amounts were mentioned.

"The thoughts of the PFA are with all of those impacted by the conflict and the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding as a result," co-chief executive officer Beau Busch said in a statement. "Aid agencies and humanitarian groups have been clear on the scale of need and the players were able to play a part."

Irvine is the PFA president as well as captain of German club FC St. Pauli.

The Socceroos beat Bangladesh 7-0 in Melbourne on Thursday and took a charter flight to Kuwait on Saturday. The Palestinians held Lebanon to a 0-0 draw on neutral turf in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates in their second-round opener.

"We're aware of the situation, we understand that football in this moment is probably not the priority in some ways," Irvine said. "But at the end of the day, we've got a game to win and a performance to focus on."


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