Sydney, Australia (BBN)-TTHE Socceroos will be told they can make individual decisions about whether to travel to Bangladesh for next month’s World Cup qualifier without fearing any repercussions for their international futures.
As Football Federation Australia waits for a ruling from FIFA over whether the game will go ahead in Dhaka on November 17, CEO David Gallop made clear the players would be allowed to opt out of the game in the wake of ongoing terrorism fears, reports the
The murders of three individuals in recent weeks, two of them foreign nationals, claimed by the terror group ISIS, have raised concerns about whether the capital Dhaka would be a safe destination for the Socceroos to play in, after the Australian cricket team elected to cancel its planned tour of Bangladesh.
Gallop said that FIFA, having rejected an initial request from Australia for the game to be moved, had now since “elevated the matter to the highest level”.
But even if the Socceroos were directed by FIFA to play the game in Dhaka, Gallop emphasised that whether to go would be a matter of conscience for each player.
“The organisation needs to make a collective decision over what we decide to do as a group, but certainly individuals will also be given the opportunity to assess the situation,” he said.
“No one’s going to be compelled to go to this game, and there certainly would not be ramifications from FFA’s point of view if someone decided they didn’t want to make the trip.
“When the team assembles in Canberra [to play Kyrgyzstan on November 12] we certainly plan to talk to players and staff and make sure everyone has as much information as possible around the decision.
“It is a decision for the organisation, but also one for individuals.”
Less than three weeks before the game is due to take place expectations are growing within FFA that it will be played in Dhaka, with various scenarios under discussion.
Gallop hinted that the team would travel if directed to do so by FIFA, given that wideranging sanctions are available to FIFA if a team fails to fulfil a fixture — above simply giving up the three points at stake in World Cup qualifying terms.
Australia’s loss to Jordan earlier this month means that forfeiting the Bangladesh game would in any case leave their qualifying hopes stretched thinly, and Gallop said that guidance from the Australian government had not yet reached the level of “don’t travel”.
“For us, there are three points at stake, there are broader ramifications around our qualification for the World Cup in Russia which we have to take into account,” he said.
“The players and staff are very reliant on [security officer] Mark Saliba for advice. They travel with him everywhere so if Mark and his team were comfortable, I would expect the players would take comfort from that and act accordingly.”