Friday, 9 June 2017

Saudi Arabia refuses to honour minute’s silence for London attack victims during world qualifier with Australia

The Saudi Arabian  National Team refused to participate in a minute’s silence to honour the victims of last weekend’s London terror attack before their World Cup qualifier against Australia on Thursday.

The 11 Australia players on the pitch lined up at the centre circle with arms on their teammates’ shoulders when the stadium announcer called for a minute’s silence to reflect on Saturday’s attack, in which two Australians were among the eight people killed.

Their opponents, however, stayed away from each other. The Saudi players all walked out of the centre of the pitch to their different positions, waiting for kick off.

According to ESPN, the Australian football federation (FFA), said after the match that the Saudis both knew about and agreed to the plan to hold a minute’s silence but declined to participate in the manner traditional at football games.

"Both the AFC [Asian Football Confederation] and the Saudi team agreed that the minute of silence could be held,'' the Australian federation said.

"The FFA was further advised by Saudi team officials that this tradition was not in keeping with Saudi culture and they would move to their side of the field and respect our custom whilst taking their own positions on the field."

The Saudi football federation issued a statement saying it "deeply regrets and unreservedly apologizes for any offense caused."

"The players did not intend any disrespect to the memories of the victims or to cause upset to their families, friends or any individual affect by the atrocity," the Saudi statement said. "The Saudi Arabian Football Federation condemns all acts of terrorism and extremism and extends its sincerest condolences to the families of all the victims."

Australia ended up winning the match 3-2, leaving them and Saudi Arabia level at 16 points in their qualifying group. Japan also have 16 points but have a game in hand.

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