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Saudi Arabian players fail to acknowledge minute’s silence

June 8, 2017 10:54 PM
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Saudi Arabian players fail to acknowledge minute’s silence

Football: Did the Saudi Arabian side snub the minute silence before the Socceroos World Cup Qualifier.

COMEDIAN Dave Hughes said the Saudi Arabian football team should not be given entry to Australia in the wake of the minute’s silence snub.

Australian football fans slammed Saudi Arabia for not observing a minute’s silence at the start of its World Cup qualifier in Adelaide and called the move disgusting and disrespectful.

Hughes this morning weighed in on the debate tweeting it wouldn’t be the first time Saudi players had made waves.

The incident he was referring to was from 2015 when the Saudi Arabian team at the Asian Cup in Australia initially refused to board a bus driven by a woman.

However the team did agree to get on during that occasion but asked that all subsequent drivers be male, the ABC reported.

It comes as Saudi Arabian football bosses unreservedly apologised after their players failed to properly observe the silence.

“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 statement read.

“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.”

Earlier Saudi Arabian officials had defended the decision not to mark a minute’s silence for victims of the London Bridge terror attack saying it’s not in their culture.

But there have been other occasions where Saudi teams have observed a minute’s silence.

Last year in Doha, Qatar, players from a Saudi club observed a minute’s silence.

The game, between FC Barcelona and al-Ahli FC on December 13 saw all the players, including the Saudis, marking silence to honour the memory of members of the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense who were killed in a plane crash.

The Adelaide Oval crowd and Socceroos players all paused to remember the two Australians lost in the weekend’s terrorist attack in London, only for the visitors to fail to do likewise.

Instead the Saudis went to their positions and began warming up. The Socceroos stood with arms around each other on the halfway line.

Captain Osama Hawsawi appeared to call for his players to standstill, with most of the players observing the rest of the tribute.

It’s understood Saudi Arabian fans also failed to pause and observe the silence in the Adelaide Oval crowd.

Senior Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese this morning slammed the Saudi players for their lack of respect and denied it had anything to do with culture.

“That was a disgraceful lack of respect not just for the two Australians killed, one of whom was a young South Australian, all of those victims of that terror attack in London. There is no excuse here,” he told Today.

“This isn’t about culture, this is about a lack of respect. I thought it was disgraceful.

Sunrise host Sam Armytage also blasted the players and said the move was “bloody disgraceful”.

Armytage didn’t hold back this morning and said there was nothing cultural about disrespect shown to two dead Australians, one of whom is from South Australia.

“When we go to the Middle East, when we went to Dubai for the show a few years ago we respect their custom, you cover your shoulders because it’s respectful to do that in their country,” she said.

2GB radio host Chris Smith told Armytage the move was simply hypocritical.

“There are parts of the Saudi royalty that actually fund terrorism,” he said.

“We know that for a fact. Finally they have stood up against Qatar, but that is... hypocritical. They do not know what side of the ledger they stand on. This business about ‘It is part of our culture’, and somebody else said it was lost in translation, they have all had time to prepare themselves for the minute’s silence. They have shown whether they are on which side of terrorism. I am glad they lost by one goal, because they lost on two fronts.”

Herald Sun columnist Susie O’Brien said the Saudis have been funding terrorist groups like the Taliban, al-Qaeda and that sport should transcend events happening in the world.

Fox Sports presenter Adam Peacock revealed on Twitter post-match that the minute’s silence was approved pre-game by Asian Football Confederation officials, but the request was refused by travelling Saudi team officials. It’s understood Football Federation Australia attempted to reasons with the visiting delegates.

It was thought that Saudi Arabian players did not understand or it was lost in translation. A small number of the opposition players paused and paid respect with the Socceroos.

A spokesman for the FFA said they were told before the game that the Saudi team would not be taking part in the tribute.

The spokesman said: “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.

“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.”

Several on social media noticed and vented their anger towards the Socceroos opponents.

Most of the Saudi Arabian side are Muslim and the custom of pausing for a moment’s silence to honour the dead is not common under Islam. Instead, it is custom to pray for the dead, give to charity on their behalf and remember.

It added spice to an already important encounter, with Australia needing victory to keep pace with Saudi Arabia and Japan at the top of the group.

Only the top two sides qualify automatically for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Going into the match Australia sat in third place and will next face Japan away from home.


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