Indigenous pair Kyah Simon and Lydia Williams and their Matildas teammates famously posed with the Aboriginal flag before kick-off of their first group game against New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, while several of the Matildas have previously spoken about Cathy Freeman draping the Aboriginal flag around her neck at Stadium Australia after her triumph at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as a defining moment in their childhoods.
The New York Times last week reported FIFA intends to hang Indigenous flags in stadiums, while the game’s governing body has already confirmed one of the eight armbands available for captains to wear at this month’s tournament is a red “Unite for Indigenous Peoples” option.
Simon, a member of FA’s National Indigenous Advisory Group, wouldn’t be drawn specifically on what she hoped to see in stadiums, given FIFA is still working through the situation.
But the 32-year-old, a proud Anaiwan woman who has fought back from an ACL tear to earn a World Cup berth on home soil, has previously relished seeing members of her family in the stands with the Aboriginal flag.
“For me, obviously, I’m proud of our culture and our First Nations people in the country,” Simon told reporters.
“Every major tournament, my family’s come along and brought their own Aboriginal flag and for me that’s obviously a part of my history and my culture and to see my family in the crowd, obviously holding up the flag as well, is something that’s close to home for me.
“There’s no better place than being here on home soil in Australia to display our Indigenous First Nations culture and heritage and I’m hoping that people that come from abroad can see that rich culture that we do have here and also be educated along the way.”
Football Australia had welcomed news of the Indigenous Peoples armband and indicated it expected a decision on the flags this week.
“Football Australia is also pleased to see the opportunity to recognise Indigenous Peoples as one of the causes identified by FIFA for its themed armbands with hosts Football Australia and New Zealand Football also anticipating guidance from FIFA in the coming week in relation to the hanging of First Nations flags in stadia during the tournament,” FA said in a statement.
Australia awaits FIFA decision on First Nations flags at WWC