Socceroos at centre of tense debate over Israel before England friendly

The game comes amid the bloody conflict raging on between Palestinian fighters and Israel.

Pictured left is Socceroos players and coach Graham Arnold on the right.
Coach Graham Arnold's Socceroos side take on old rivals England in a friendly at Wembley. Pic: Getty

The Socceroos are caught in the middle of a tense and delicate debate over whether UK sporting bodies should pay official tribute to the hundreds of Israelis killed in Hamas attacks last weekend. Australia is due to meet England in a friendly at Wembley on Friday night (UK time) in the first international sporting contest held in the country since the large-scale assault.

Traditionally, Wembley displays the colours or flags of countries on its arch to show solidarity and support following a tragedy. It is also usually followed by some sort of pre-game acknowledgment, usually in the form of a minute's silence.

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But given the emotion and unfolding in the Middle East, there is a fear any sign of support for either side involved in the conflict could lead to unrest in the stands. England's Football Association is set to meet with government officials over the next 48 hours to discuss the situation, with the Socceroos to be kept abreast of developments.

Moment of silence expected to be observed at Wembley

UK's Daily Telegraph reported: "Displaying the colours of the Israel flag could be viewed as taking sides in a decades-long conflict in the Middle East but it appears certain that, at the very least, there will be a moment of silence or reflection before kick-off on Friday in tribute to all those to have died.

"The precise nature of that, as well as the potential for anti-Israeli or pro-Palestinian chanting in the crowd, will be discussed with England’s opponents, Australia." While Football Australia officials await further word from their English counterparts, the Socceroos are concentrating on getting the job done on the pitch against one of the world's best teams.

"Playing here in England, the rivalry that we have against England and in sport, not just football it's going to be fantastic," coach Graham Arnold said. "And to have an occasion at Wembley where the Socceroos have never played before it's going to be extra special.

Seen here, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is relishing the chance to renew the rivalry with football powerhouse, England. Pic: Getty

"So, I'm looking forward to first and foremost a great performance by the boys and winning the game." Defender Harry Souttar added: "As good as England are - and obviously the iconic venue it is - ultimately it's a game of football,'

"With the experiences we've had with the World Cup, playing massive teams all over the world at some of the venues that we've been at, it's one that we go into with excitement knowing that we can play on the biggest stage against the best players. We've got full belief in ourselves and what we can do as a group and hopefully it will be a good night for us."

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