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The Politics of Everything

Mar 15, 2022


Today’s guest wears a lot of impressive hats: Former Socceroo | Broadcaster | Adjunct Professor, Sport & Social Responsibility | Author | and Human Rights Activist

Who else could this be but Craig Foster AM?

Following a decorated football career as Australia’s 419th Socceroo and 40th Captain, Craig has become one of Australia’s most respected sports people as a broadcaster, social justice advocate, and human rights campaigner.

Craig represented Australia in the Junior National Team at age 15 in the first FIFA Under 16 World Cup in China, 1985 where he was selected in the FIFA Team of the Tournament. He would later go on to represent Australia at senior level on 29 occasions including as Captain.

Following retirement, he quickly became one of Australia’s most respected sports broadcasters with an 18-year, triple Logie-winning career with Australia’s multicultural broadcaster, Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) as part of The World Game (TWG) team which included five FIFA World Cups and four FIFA Women’s World Cups as well as the UEFA Champions League, English Premier League and domestic competitions.

He is a vocal supporter of a higher humanitarian intake by Australia and particularly an increased intake for Afghan refugees.

A smidgen of his relevant humanitarian work efforts includes being:

His humanitarian activism extends to several, high-profile campaigns including #SaveHakeem to free Bahraini refugee Hakeem al-Araibi from a Thai prison for which he was a Finalist for the Australian Human Rights Commission Medal.

He is a former columnist for the Sun Herald, author, and co-author of several books including ‘Fighting for Hakeem’ by Hachette Australia, and writes for the Guardian, The Age, and other publications and holds a Professional Coaching License and helped guide dozens of Australia’s finest young female and male talents, many of whom graduated to Australia’s National Teams.

In 2019, the Australian Financial Review recognized Craig as a ‘True Australian Leader’, the Sydney Morning Herald as one of the ‘People that Defined 2019′, he was the recipient of the 2020 NSW Government Humanitarian Award for his work with sport and human rights, an Australian Human Rights Commission Medal finalist, was awarded the Australian Muslim Council 2020 Abyssinian Medal and was a finalist for the NSW 2021 Australian of the Year.

In 2021, Craig became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day Honours List which he dedicated to and shared with his refugee friends and all refugees seeking safety around the world.

In 2020, Craig contributed to the acquisition of Humanitarian Visas and evacuation of around one hundred predominantly female Afghan athletes from Kabul escaping the Taliban including the Afghan National Women’s Football Team and Taekwondo athletes, as well as Afghanistan’s several Paralympians who went on to compete at the Tokyo Paralympic Games weeks later. 

Working with Australia’s Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, and Foreign Minister, Marise Payne as well as trusted members of the Australian Parliament, Craig used his sporting and political connections to secure the safety of many Afghans. 

Shortly after the Kabul airport was closed to evacuation flights, Craig also assisted 15 young girls to escape a Kabul safe house while the Taliban searched from house to house for them and acquired the Humanitarian Visas for them to resettle in Australia.

Somehow, Craig was nominated as one of Australia’s Best Dressed Men despite spending his life in ripped jeans and board-shorts and still plays football for the Waverley Old Boys Over 35’s in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Australia where he tries to relive old glories.

Today, Craig advises on athlete activism for some of Australia’s most prominent sportspeople and is an Adjunct Professor of Sport and Social Responsibility with Torrens University, Australia where he has developed an online course called ‘Sport for Good’ which teaches athletes and sport practitioners how to utilize sport for social justice and progressive issues around the world.

Craig holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), a Master’s Degree in International Sports Management, and a Postgraduate Degree in Football Management.

In this episode, Craig discusses:

  1. How do you define human rights? Maybe a practical example of what that is in practice. Is it just about equality of opportunities in a legal and moral sense or much more?
  2. What prompted you to become a human rights advocate? Was there a trigger for you that made you focus on this and what keeps you going when issues like Manus Island detainees among other cases must sometimes feel like they will never go away?
  3. Many of us witnessed through the consistent media coverage your role in freeing footballer Hakeem al-Alraibi in 2019. That was a relentless campaign and one that I imagine you had to pull on every lever you had to make that case stay front of mind in not just the media but the government’s agenda. Reflecting on that experience, what did that reveal about Australia’s human rights approach?
  4. We have a problematic human rights record in Australia and the First Nations people have suffered and continue to suffer – for example, ABS figures from 30 June 2021 stated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners made up 30% of all prisoners and 78% had experienced prior adult imprisonment. And life expectancy remains much lower than non-Indigenous Australians. How can we rectify this huge and relentless situation faster and in a way that is humane?
  5. Take away: What is your final takeaway message for us on The Politics of Human Rights?


To connect with Craig: