Player safety for the Socceroos has been prioritised as the team prepares its World Cup qualifier against Palestine later this month, which has been moved to Kuwait.
The Football Australia (FA) chief executive, James Johnson, said his organisation, the players and the Asian Football Confederation had been in consultation over the fixture which “prior to the devastating circumstances in Gaza” was originally scheduled for Ramallah in the West Bank.
‘The Palestine team carries hope’: football dreams live on amid conflictRead more
FA confirmed on Tuesday the match would be moved to Kuwait, and will take place on 21 November.
“We’re putting in place all the right security measures to ensure the players are safe, but also feel comfortable going there,” Johnson said.
Al Jazeera reported the Palestinian side had made it out of the country via Jordan last week.
Professional Footballers Australia co-chief executive, Beau Busch, said Australian players’ thoughts were with those who had been affected in the conflict.
“On behalf of the players, it’s truly tragic what’s occurring in the region,” he said on Wednesday. “We are continuing to work with human rights groups and aid groups to understand what role, if any, the players can play in supporting those that have been impacted.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Dfat) has been involved in discussions with FA about how to approach the match. A spokesperson confirmed Dfat “is providing advice” in relation to the Palestine match, as well as a fixture scheduled to be played in Lebanon in March, north of the current conflict.
Australian government travel advice for Palestine and Lebanon is a level four: do not travel. Lebanon has moved its home match against Palestine next week to the UAE, according to Fifa.
Busch said safety remains the priority, but the players also want to help where they can. “We’ll continue to prioritise that and see how and in what way the players will be comfortable in lending their support to those that have been impacted across the region,” he said.
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Australia’s match against Palestine will follow next week’s match against Bangladesh in Melbourne on 16 November. The Socceroos squad for the fixtures will be announced on Thursday.
The games mark the start of the second round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup. Australia, Palestine, Lebanon and Bangladesh play each other twice in a pool between November and June. The top two teams progress to the third round.
Palestine, despite ongoing challenges in terms of preparation and travel, is ranked 96th in the world while Australia is 27th.