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Indigenous-Led Football Body Calls Out FIFA's "Empty Symbolism" at World Cup

An Indigenous-led football body has raised concerns about FIFA's use of Indigenous culture at the FIFA Women's World Cup without committing to funding programs supporting First Nations involvement in the game. The council of Indigenous Football Australia (IFA), including prominent figures such as John Moriarty, Craig Foster, Adam Goodes, Stan Grant, and others, sent an open letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressing their disappointment.

While FIFA allowed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags to be flown at match venues and introduced armbands with the message "United for Indigenous Peoples," the IFA highlighted the lack of financial support for Indigenous football programs like the successful John Moriarty Football initiative. The IFA urged FIFA to back Indigenous-led organizations and invest in programs that can benefit tens of thousands of Indigenous children and youth, leaving a genuine and lasting legacy.

The IFA's letter referenced FIFA Secretary-General Fatma Samoura's previous statement that FIFA could not just play and leave, claiming that the current situation appeared to contradict those words. The IFA emphasized that the privilege to use cultural assets belonging to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community should involve giving back and supporting Indigenous football programs, enabling Indigenous players to belong and develop in the game.

FIFA's response, delivered by Chief Women's Football Officer Sarai Bareman, promised specific investment in Football Australia's Legacy '23 plan through participation, leadership, and development pillars. However, the IFA maintained that the Legacy '23 plan did not explicitly mention Indigenous football, leading them to launch a GoFundMe campaign to crowdsource funding for the John Moriarty Football program.

Football Australia previously launched its National Indigenous Advisory Group, co-chaired by Jade North and featuring Frank Farina and Kyah Simon, to address the sport's approach to Indigenous involvement. However, organizations like John Moriarty Football operate independently from the federation.

Bareman encouraged the IFA to continue discussions with Football Australia and its Indigenous advisory group to shape the future of Indigenous football.

Read the full article here.

Photo Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald

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