football

Calls are mounting on FIFA to require Israel’s national league to exclude teams from West Bank settlements or face suspension from the governing body of world football (soccer).

But there are warning signs FIFA may be succumbing to intense pressure to once again give Israel a pass to continue violating Palestinian rights with impunity.

The Football Federation of Australia (FFA), which governs football (soccer) in Australia, has contributed just $10,000 to Indigenous football this year — slashing its annual funding in half from last year, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed on March 31.

The situation for Palestinian and Arab football (soccer) players in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza has, for some time, been dire.

On one side of Israel’s Apartheid Wall, within the formal borders of Israel, segregated youth teams, racist abuse, and heckling — including charming chants such as “Death to the Arabs” — are frequent. On the other, in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, checkpoint detention, jailings, and the bombing of stadiums have become regular features of what is supposed to be the people’s game.

Given the powerful role that football plays as a point of community cohesion in the West Bank and Gaza, this everyday violence feels like a full-frontal attack on civil society, normalcy and hope.

Fans from Western Sydney Wanderers A-League football team distributed hundreds of rainbow flags to those attending the club’s March 5 match against Adelaide United. The move came after two weeks of controversy sparked by a banner raised by some Wanderers fans during their team’s 1-0 victory over cross-town rivals Sydney FC, which was widely condemned in the media and among many fans for being homophobic.

Professional football players are the latest sector to hold strikes in Argentina amid a struggling economy and harsh austerity measures imposed by right-wing President Mauricio Macri. 

The Brazilian football team El Cruzeiro wore T-shirts highlighting the many issues that women in the South American country still face on a daily basis. Meanwhile, a similar initiative was announced by the Costa Rican football league. On March 8, players did not celebrate goals scored as part of a campaign meant to express solidarity with women victims of violence.

The Mexican and US national teams defied protocol on November 11 in their World Cup qualifier as they posed together for a team photograph. The move was a display of unity as US president-elect Donald Trump threatens to tear the two nations apart.

Mexico won the game, hosted in Ohio, with a 2-1 final score.

Normally, football teams pose separately before the game, but this time the players decided to pose together to strike back at Trump’s proposal to make Mexico pay for a wall between the two countries to keep immigrants out.

Kurdish footballer Deniz Naki has been indicted by a Turkish court on “terrorist propaganda” charges for sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter about Turkey’s destruction of Kurdish cities and killing of civilians and militants.

Naki, who plays as a striker and playmaker for Kurdish team Amedspor, in Turkey’s Second League, will face up to five years in prison if found guilty. Amedspor are based in Diyarbakır, the unofficial capital of Turkish Kurdistan.

In a dramatic depiction of the vast differences in resources and respect between men’s and women’s sport, a report by the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has laid bare the woeful pay and conditions for W-League football (soccer) players.

AAP reported on September 23 that he report by the PFA, the union representing Australian footballers, surveyed almost two-thirds of W-League players last season. The report suggests players could walk away from the game because of the financial strain.

Liverpool fans at Anfield protesting against ticket price hike. Owners of English Premier League side Liverpool FC have caved to fan protests against rising ticket prices, backing down after raising tickets to £77 and apologising to fans. On February 6, 10,000 Liverpool fans walked out of their team’s home game against Sunderland in the 77th minute in protest against the planned ticket price rise.

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