Aussie footballers boost humanitarian effort in Gaza
Australian footballers will donate part of their match fee from their World Cup qualifier against Palestine to humanitarian efforts in Gaza.
Governing body Football Australia will match the Socceroos’ five-figure gift.
Australia coach Graham Arnold said preparations for Tuesday’s game had been “very stressful” in the context of the conflict between Israel and Gaza.
The game was to take place in the West Bank but officials moved the venue to Kuwait.
Palestine played their first game since the start of the conflict on Thursday, a 0-0 draw against Lebanon in Sharjah, UAE.
The last time Palestine played at home was against Saudi Arabia in 2019.
Arnold called the clash “terrible” but stressed that his team must focus on football.
“With everything that’s going on in the Middle East right now it’s put a lot of stress on me and just making sure that everything [preparation] great,” he said.
“What we have control over is our performance and playing against Palestine and going out and doing the job for Australia.
“Obviously we’re very sympathetic to everyone with what’s going on, but again, it’s a game of football and that makes everyone very happy.”
Australia, ranked 27th in the world, top their qualifying group after a 7-0 win over Bangladesh on Thursday with world number 96 Palestine in third.
Leicester defender Harry Souttar, who opened the scoring for Australia against Bangladesh, said the team must be professional in Kuwait and put their emotions aside.
“Obviously we know what’s going on for both sides, it’s terrible,” said Souttar.
“I’m not going to stand here and give a political view, but what I can say is that we will only be focusing on that game and nothing else.
“We know that Palestine is going to be right for it. We know that they will play for much more than just football.”
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