Saudi Arabia’s national football team has been criticised for failing to observe a minute’s silence held before the match against Australia in Adelaide.
When the stadium announcer called for teams to honour the victims of last weekend’s London attack, the 11 Socceroos players on the field lined up at the centre circle with arms on their teammates’ shoulders.
Their opponents seemingly ignoring the gesture and continued jogging, passing the ball between each other and taking their positions on the field.
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Football Federation Australia said after the match that the Saudis knew about the plan to hold a 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 The Sydney Morning Herald.
“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.”
Typically, FIFA representatives meet with officials from both teams and the referee a day before a World Cup qualifier to discuss all game protocol issues, including plans for a minute’s silence.
Two Australians were among the eight people killed in Saturday’s attack.
The Saudi team’s actions were met with both criticism and support online with some suggesting on Twitter that the minute’s silence was not a recognised way to show respect and condolences in the country’s culture or in Islam more broadly.
Australia ended up winning the match 3-2, leaving it and Saudi Arabia tied with 16 points in their qualifying group. Japan also has 16 points but has a game in hand.