PIC GALLERY SPECIAL: International football legends like Didier Drogba, Dwight Yorke and David Trezeguet are set to fly into Sydney for a special one-off match to raise funds for those affected by the bushfires disaster.
Christened #FootballForFires, the event will be staged at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Saturday 23 May.
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.
All proceeds from the match will go toward the restoration and improvement of local football clubs and facilities in fire-affected areas nationwide.
Driven by Australian player agent Lou Sticca – the man responsible for bringing Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero to Sydney FC in 2012 – and his agency Tribal Sports Group, players already confirmed for the contest include the likes of Didier Drogba, Dwight Yorke, Park Ji-Sung, David Trezeguet, Emile Heskey and Geremi.
Australian footballing luminaries such as former Socceroos captain Mark Milligan, 2005 World Cup qualifying penalty shootout hero John Aloisi, Fox Sports pundit Mark Bosnich, FIFPro Deputy Secretary-General Simon Colosimo and NSL legend Con Boutsianis are also set to lace up the boots.
In total, over 1200 international caps combined are already confirmed to be taking part, with the participant’s resumes including stints at clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Milian.
With a crowd of 85,000 targeted for the event, money raised from ticket sales and merchandise has been earmarked for communities that have lost their homes, properties and their football clubs and facilities throughout Australia.
Funds are also set to be raised through donations to a Red Cross appeal set up for the game.
Organisers have signalled their intention to make available free tickets to those that have been impacted by the bushfires and/or part of the firefighting efforts.
“The thoughts of the entire football family have been with the victims of these terrible bushfires over the past few weeks,” FFA CEO James Johnson said.
“We now we have this important opportunity to harness the power of our global sport to raise funds to assist in the re-build of our local devastated communities, and honour the brave men and women who have put their own lives at risk during this unprecedented natural disaster.
“I’d like to thank the NSW Government, Football NSW and Northern NSW Football for their support of this event, and Lou Sticca and Tribal Sports Group for their work in pulling together such a great list of players.
“I urge all football fans to join us on 23 May at ANZ Stadium for what promises to be a unique and memorable event,”
Participants already confirmed:
- Didier Drogba – 105 caps for Ivory Coast – Former Chelsea, Galatasaray and Montreal Impact
- David Trezeguet – 71 caps for France – Former Monaco, Juventus and River Plate
- Dwight Yorke – 74 caps for Trinidad and Tobago – Former Manchester United, Aston Villa and Sydney FC
- Claudio Marchisio – 55 caps for Italy – Former Juventus
- Dario Simic – 100 caps for Croatia – Former Inter Milan, AC Milan, Dinamo Zagreb and Monaco
- John Aloisi – 55 caps for Australia – Former Coventry City, Cremonese, Osasuna and Sydney FC
- Dwayne De Rosario – 81 caps for Canada – Former Toronto, San Jose and New York Red Bulls
- Park Ji-Sung – 100 caps for South Korea – Former Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven
- Simon Colosimo – 26 caps for Australia - Former Carlton SC , Manchester City, Perth Glory and Sydney FC
- Tore Andre Flo – 76 caps for Norway – Former Chelsea, Rangers, Sunderland and Leeds United
- Alecko Eskandarian – 1 cap for the United States – Former DC United, Toronto FC, Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA
- Mark Bosnich – 17 caps for Australia – Former Aston Villa, Manchester United, Chelsea
- Con Boutsianis – 4 caps for Australia – Former South Melbourne, Heidelberg United and Perth Glory
- Pedro Mendes – 11 caps for Portugal – Former Porto, Tottenham Hotspur, Portsmouth and Rangers
- Le Cong Vinh – 83 caps for Vietnam – Former Song Lam Nghe An and Consadole Sapporo
- Mark Milligan - 80 caps for Australia - Former Shanghai Shenhua, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC
- Emile Heskey – 62 caps for England – Former Leicester City, Liverpool and Aston Villa
- Michael Bridges – Former Sunderland, Leeds United and Newcastle Jets
- Geremi – 118 caps for Cameroon – Former Real Madrid, Chelsea, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United
- Stephen Appiah – 67 caps for Ghana – Former Fenerbahce, Udinese, Juventus and Vojvodina
- Rustu Recber – 120 caps for Turkey – Former Fenerbahce, Barcelona, Besiktas and Antalyaspor
At least 32 people have already killed by the fires that have gripped Australia this summer, with almost 2000 homes destroyed. At least 7.7m hectares of land has been burnt, a figure greater than the average landmass of European nations.
Initial government data also indicates more than 100 threatened animal and plant species have had at least half their habitat destroyed, while more than 300 have a minimum of 10% wiped out.