|Full name||Craig Andrew Foster|
|Date of birth||15 April 1969|
|Place of birth||Lismore, New South Wales, Australia|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Craig Andrew Foster AM (born 15 April 1969) is an Australian retired soccer player, human rights activist and sports analyst for the Stan Sport streaming service in Australia. Foster was formerly chief football analyst for the Special Broadcasting Service, where he worked for 18 years. He is renowned for his outspoken stance on the need for association football in Australia to mature.
Foster was born in Lismore, New South Wales, later attending Kadina High School, periodically returning to speak and motivate students. Both sides of his family are of Anglo-Celtic descent.
Playing as a midfielder, Foster debuted with Sydney Croatia in 1988, playing in a losing grand final in his first season. Foster has said his time at Sydney Croatia is what began his interest in multiculturalism.
He moved to Victorian club Sunshine George Cross in 1989 before returning to Sydney to play for Avala in the NSW Super League in 1992. In 1992/3, Foster played for Ernest Borel in Hong Kong, before returning to Australia to play for Adelaide City in 1994 and then Marconi in the NSL in 1996/7.
As a 28-year-old he moved to England, linking up with Terry Venables firstly at Portsmouth in 1997/98, before moving to Crystal Palace as a free agent from 1998 to 2000.
He returned to Australia to play with Northern Spirit, based in North Sydney, until his retirement from the game in 2003.
In 2013 he was listed as a player for the Belmore United Over 35s along with Paul Okon and Francis Awaritefe.[non-primary source needed]
Foster represented Australia at under 16 level reaching the quarter finals at the 1985 FIFA U-16 World Championship in China.
He played for the Australian national football team from 1996 to 2000, earning 29 caps and scoring nine goals.
Foster started his on-air career with the Seven Network, serving as a football analyst and principal commentator on their then pay TV sport channel, C7 Sport, as well as regularly appearing as a panellist on SBS' weekly football program On The Ball. He later joined SBS full time working with Les Murray and the Johnny Warren at the helm of SBS’ hugely successful football broadcasts. In June 2020, it was announced that Foster would be leaving the SBS after working eighteen years as a sports presenter.
During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Foster was part of the SBS commentary team from Germany.
Following his retirement from professional football, Foster became the chief football analyst for the SBS show The World Game, and is remembered for his commentary during the World Cup Qualifier in November 2005 against Uruguay. He is also renowned for his advocacy of a more Spanish/South American style of play, as opposed to the constant use of the long ball in football. Foster has been a strong advocate for player's rights, having served for five years on the Australian Professional Footballers' Association Executive, as a Director of the APFA's commercial wing, PFAM (PFA Management), and formerly as Chief Executive of the Player's Association. Foster is a life member of the APFA and a member of the APFA Technical Committee.
He writes for The Sun-Herald and The Sydney Morning Herald.
He was a coach for Nerds FC in their second season.
In 2007, Foster was invited to be the Australian representative to judge the Ballon d'Or, the highest award given to an individual football player.
Foster has long been an advocate for footballers and has been human rights and refugee ambassador for Amnesty International. He has often used his position as presenter and chief football analyst at SBS to criticise unethical practices in the game.
Foster was vocal in campaigning on behalf of Bahraini footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who was granted protection as a political refugee in Australia in 2014 but was detained upon arrival in Thailand in November 2018 while on his honeymoon with his wife owing to an Interpol red notice put out by Bahrain. Foster travelled to Switzerland to present a petition with more than 50,000 signatures demanding the release of the detained footballer and held talks with general secretary Fatma Samoura FIFA on 29 January 2019, spent time in Thailand speaking to al-Araibi's legal team and visited al-Araibi in prison. Foster's many tweets on the topic were widely shared.[non-primary source needed] After al-Araibi's release was secured, others tweeted nominations for Foster as Australian of the Year or even prime minister. Many politicians, including prime minister Scott Morrison praised him for his efforts.
Foster said after the release of al-Araibi that the fight had just begun, and after the incident had shone light on the atrocities against athletes during and after the Bahraini uprising of 2011, what was needed is a full investigation into the matter by both FIFA and the IOC to ensure that justice is done for all athletes. He also implicitly offered criticism of Australia's current policies on refugees, saying "Australia needs to look at how we treat every human being that comes to these shores, irrespective of how they arrive...We are all equal, and should all be treated with equal dignity, care and respect.", and "Australia must do better than we have in recent years.".
On 22 February 2019, Foster published an open letter to the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten, in The Sydney Morning Herald, in which, after thanking them for their assistance in helping to free al-Araibi, he addressed the issue of how Australia treats its asylum seekers. He said "I have waited until after Hakeem was safely home [from Thailand] to explain that one of the reasons it was so difficult to garner international support was because of our own treatment of refugees. This was a constant theme throughout discussions with international stakeholders." and "The policy of indefinite, offshore detention does not uphold our international obligations...". He said that he was urging others to uphold their human rights obligations in allowing al-Araibi to return to Australia, while "we are failing to uphold our own." By midday the following day, the article pinned to his Twitter page had garnered 1,800 retweets and 4,600 likes.[non-primary source needed]
In 2021, Foster was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to multiculturalism, to human rights and refugee support organisations, and to football.