The Australia national team have picked up the criticism baton and ran with it towards World Cup host nation Qatar, for the human rights and LGBTQ+ issues surrounding the country.
The Socceroos are one of the teams from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) that will strut their stuff at the global showpiece in a few weeks. They, as well as Japan, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia will travel to fellow AFC nation Qatar to give a good account of the development of football in their confederation.
However, they will be doing so without their fans who belong to the LGBTQ+ community as Qatar's stance on the much maligned group is as tough as the heat in their deserts. Many countries and popular football figures have criticised the world football governing body FIFA for giving the gulf nation host rights because of this.
Qatar have also been dealing with the backlash from a human rights issue surrounding their preparations for the tournament.
The Australia national team have now released a video message criticising their fellow AFC nation, less than a month to the tournament. While they are not the first to criticise, they are the first team whose players have all come out in solidarity against Qatar's right to host the tournament. Their message stems from the backlash which UK foreign secretary James Cleverly shared to fans looking to travel to Qatar for the tournament.
Cleverly's message, as relayed on Twitter by Theo Usherwood, reads: "One of the things I'd say to football fans is please do be respectful of the host nation.
"They're trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football. I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends, it can be a safe and secure World Cup."
The video message from the Socceroos, shared by the Professional Footballers Union of Australia, had 16 players: Matt Ryan, Jackson Irvine, Bailey Wright, Jamie Maclaren, Nick D’Agostino, Craig Goodwin, Danny Vukovic, Andrew Redmayne, Mathew Leckie, Mitchell Duke, Mitch Langerak, Denis Genreau, Cameron Devlin, Adam Taggart, Kye Rowles and Alex Wilkinson, the president of union Professional Footballers Australia (PFA).
Socceroos captain Ryan, who is best known for his time at Premier League club Brighton and Hove Albion, said in his section of the message: “There are universal values that should define football. Values such as respect, dignity, trust and courage.
“When we represent our nation, we aspire to embody these values.”