Many of the greatest international footballers of the past decade have recommitted to the blockbuster #FootballForFires fund-raising match, which will now be played at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium on Saturday 3 October.
Promoter Lou Sticca, from Tribal Sports Group, in conjunction with Football Federation Australia, said most of the superstars of football who had committed to the #FootballForFires game in May had indicated they would travel to Australia for this important fund-raising event later in the year, with additional players now to be added.
“Communities left devastated by the Australian bushfires last summer are now dealing with the double-whammy of a global health crisis so the #FootballForFires event will take on even greater meaning and importance when it is played in October,” Mr Sticca said.
“Thousands of Australians were planning to visit regional communities at Easter and during the winter to support the businesses so badly damaged by the bushfires, however the COVID-19 emergency has prevented this so there has been no respite in these areas.
“The collective will of players, sponsors and the football community to rally in support of those hurting most has not diminished, so we have re-committed to #FootballForFires and it is our intention for the match to go ahead on the evening of Saturday 3 October at Bankwest Stadium, one of the great football venues of the world.”
With ANZ Stadium out of action due to the upcoming redevelopment, Bankwest Stadium will provide a unique atmosphere for an event that will feature a Who’s Who of The World Game.
The awards and recognition keep coming for Bankwest Stadium – recently awarded the Silver Medal by a panel of international design experts at the 10th annual Stadium Database Stadium of the Year Awards. Bankwest Stadium finished behind only Tokyo’s Olympic showpiece, the AU$2.4 billion Japan National Stadium, as the best stadium built anywhere in the world in 2019.
Star players from 16 nations, including some of the biggest names in Australian football, committed to the original May date for the #FootballForFires match.
Tribal Sports will work with all players and coaches Graham Arnold and Guus Hiddink in the months to come before final line-ups are announced for the rescheduled event, which will be subject to NSW and Federal Government COVID-19 restrictions and advice at the time.
“There is every indication that we will have a roster of players as strong – possibly even stronger than the original squad named for #FootballForFires,” Mr Sticca said.
Two teams of legendary footballers will be selected to play for the Firefighters All Stars versus SES All Stars competing for the Football For Fires Cup, with fabulous game-day kits for each team developed by Kappa.
Volunteers will receive an allocation of tickets to the game and the Firefighters and SES members will fill the supporter areas at both ends of the ground and, along with thousands of football fans, will create a fantastic atmosphere at Bankwest Stadium.
While Sydney will host the match, the event will honour and recognise all fire-fighting agencies and State Emergency Services personnel who were involved in the bushfire crisis Australia-wide.
All proceeds from the match will go toward the restoration and improvement of local football clubs and facilities in fire-affected areas nationwide.
Football supporters and clubs around the world have been donating to the relief, recovery and rebuild efforts in our communities through the Australian Red Cross, and local donations will be made to the NSW Rural Fire Service and NSW SES Volunteers Association on game day.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chief Executive James Johnson said the re-scheduling of the game was an important decision to make, “As a sport of nearly two million participants, football has an extremely important role to play in slowing down the spread of COVID-19 across Australia so we are supportive of rescheduling the match. It’s vital however, that we continue to acknowledge the terrible effect the bushfires had on so many communities, and do everything we can to provide support through these difficult times.
“Football can play an important role in the rebuild of those communities affected by the bushfires. With some of the biggest names in the world game taking part and given the current circumstances, #FootballForFires will be a showpiece occasion and something the entire football family in Australia and abroad, can really look forward to.”
Sydney FC has become the latest football club to donate to the cause. The A-League champions join Celtic Football Club (Scotland), New York Cosmos (USA) and Fiorentina (Italy) as clubs that have donated money to the #FootballForFires Red Cross appeal.
Sponsors have recommitted to the new date for the blockbuster match, including Australian Telco Mate Communicate.
General Manager of Mate, Mark Fazio, said: “We are facing another challenging time for Australians and the world, but it’s vital that we don’t forget about the people who have been affected by the bushfires and who are still facing major struggles in their lives. MATE remains committed to supporting #FootballForFires and helping to raise as much money as possible to support our own.”
Venues NSW, the government agency that owns Bankwest Stadium on behalf of the NSW Government, is providing the venue free of charge for the #FootballForFires match.