Saudi Arabia’s national football team refused to line up to observe a minute’s silence for the victims of the London Bridge terror attack on Thursday night because it is “not in keeping with Saudi culture.”
Australian football fans were left outraged ahead of the Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifying match as Saudi players could be seen finishing their pre-match warm-up instead of observing a minute’s silence.
The Saudi substitutes did not stand for the silence, reports the Independent.
The Australian soccer federation confirmed after the match that the Saudis knew about the planned minute’s silence before Thursday’s World Cup qualifying match but declined to participate.
“Both the (Asian Football Confederation) and the Saudi team agreed that the minute of silence could be held,” the Australian federation said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“The Australian soccer federation 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.”
Bewildered fans took to Twitter to express their outrage.
“I hope Fifa call out Saudi Arabia on the clear lack of respect shown prior to kick-off,” wrote one user. “Not participating in the minute’s silence is disgusting.”
“Minute’s silence for London terror [victims], Saudi players wandering around like they don’t give a f***. Saudi fans shouting the whole time,” wrote another fan.
The Independent reports:
Some users claimed that observing silences ahead of football matches was not a part of Saudi culture. But Saudi players and teams have previously observed such tributes, and Saudi side Al-Ahli Saudi FC paused for a minute of silence ahead of their Qatar Airways Cup match against Barcelona in December 2016.
The match was held at the Adelaide Oval with a minute of silence to commemorate the eight victims of the London Bridge terror attack. Two Australian citizens were killed in the attack.
Nanny Sara Zelenak, 21, was confirmed dead on Wednesday while nurse Kristy Boden was also killed in the attack, after running to help other victims.
Australia did go on to win the Group B qualification match 3-2.