Global Football Superstars To Play For Bushfire Charity Match In Sydney
Didier Drogba, Dwight Yorke and Ji-Sung Park are among the star international footballers who have volunteered to play in the special Football For Fires match in Sydney in May.
On Tuesday, the first round of players set to appear in the match was announced, featuring former international stars including Mark Bosnich, David Trezeguet, Claudio Marchisio, Dario Simic, Emile Heskey, Pedro Mendes and Geremi, all of whom will play without fee.
A host of Australian players will also take to the field, including retired Socceroos captain Mark Milligan.
More names will be announced over the coming days.
The match will be played at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on May 23, and it is hoped more than $1 million will be raised.
The two teams will be selected to play for the Firefighters All Stars versus SES All Stars, competing for the Football For Fires Cup.
With 16 nations represented in the 20 names so far, it is hoped the star power and international influence will draw larger eyes to the game, in turn meaning more money is donated.
"We've been very strategic, we've got 16 nations represented in the 20 names. There's a method to the madness, in that we want those communities to feel a part of it so I think this game will have a lot of attraction and a lot of eyeballs from around the world," said Lou Sticca, organiser of the exhibition match.
"We're talking to TV partners about domestic telecast but we've had significant interest from overseas networks that want to take the game to audiences around the world."
All proceeds from the match will go toward the restoration and improvement of local football clubs and facilities in fire-affected areas nationwide.
FFA have nominated a working group focused on the bushfires to focus on the distribution of funds, to ensure they land where they are needed, and to decide how to best help build morale in local areas.
"The football family has been heartbroken by these bushfires and the great thing about our code is it's ability to bring people together and it's ability to have a deep sense of community," said FFA boss James Johnson.
"Our code is at it's best when it's able to unify and connect and bring people together."
The NSW Government will provide the use of ANZ Stadium without cost, and will donate the profits from all food and beverages sold on the night to the fundraising effort.
More than 40,000 tickets will go on sale on Thursday, while a large number of tickets will be reserved for volunteers without cost as a thank you for their fire-fighting efforts over the summer.
The Australian football community has come together over the past few months to raise money for bushfire affected communities.
Socceroos goalkeeper Maty Ryan, who plays for Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League, pledged $500 for every save made during Matchday 22 games in the EPL, totalling $28,000.
His club and country teammate Aaron Mooy also donated to the Australian players' association, with Brighton matching their donations.
The Western Sydney Wanderers' supporter group, the Red & Black Bloc, raised nearly $50,000 in a fundraising drive for the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery fund.
Last Saturday, Socceroos and Matildas greats, celebrities and politicians took to the field at AAMI Park in Melbourne for the Oz Football Aid charity match.
The two sides, captained by former Socceroos captain Craig Foster and award-winning actor Anthony LaPaglia, played as a curtain raiser for the A-League match between Melbourne City and Perth Glory.
A portion of ticket sales went to Rural Aid as part of its bushfire relief.
NPL and local clubs have also played in their own charity matches to raise money.
Sydney-based A.P.I.A Leichhardt held 'The Coppa Italia' Bushfire Relief day last Saturday, raising funds for firefighters.
NSW South Coast clubs Albion Park City FC and the Wollongong Wolves played 'Football for Firies' on January 18, which has raised nearly $30,000.
Former Socceroos, such as Luke Wilshire, David Carney and Brett Emerton joined other celebrities, including the code-hopping Robbie Farah in the match that was streamed by Optus Sport.
Feature Image: Getty