Saudi Arabia’s football association has apologised after its players appeared to snub a minute’s silence for the victims of the London attacks during their match against Australia.
Before the game against the Socceroos in Adelaide on Thursday, June 8, Saudi players mostly milled about separately when the stadium announcer called for a moment of silence.
In contrast, the Australian team linked arms in the centre circle to pay their respects.
The only Saudi player to stand still was the captain Osama Hawsawi.
Australia’s federation said the moment of silence was its idea.
“The FFA sought agreement from the Asian Football Confederation and the Saudi national team to hold a minute’s silence in memory of those lost in Saturday night’s terror bombings in London and in particular the two Australian women,” a spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Both the AFC and the Saudi team agreed that the minute of silence could be held.
“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 apologised and said no disrespect was intended.
“The Saudi Arabian Football Federation deeply regrets and unreservedly apologises for any offence caused by the failure of some members of the representative team of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to formally observe the one minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the London terrorist attack on 3 June 2017, prior to the World Cup Qualifying match against Australia in Adelaide,” Friday’s statement said.
“The players did not intend any disrespect to the memories of the victims or to cause upset to their families, friends or any individual affected by the atrocity.
“The Saudi Arabian Football Federation condemns all acts of terrorism and extremism and extends its sincerest condolences to the families of all the victims and to the Government and people of the United Kingdom.”