Saudi Arabia did not take part in the minute’s silence for victims of the London terror attack prior to their match against Australia because it was “not in keeping with Saudi culture”.
Australia defeated the Saudis 3-2 in a thrilling World Cup qualifying match in Adelaide on Thursday.
But there was confusion before kick-off when a silence to honour the eight victims of last Saturday’s attack at London Bridge and Borough Market – two of whom were Australian – took place.
While Australia’s players locked arms in the centre circle in the traditional way, the Saudi team did not follow suit.
Instead, they took to their positions in their half of the field. Some Saudi players remained still while the minute’s silence took place, while others continued warming up and reports at the ground claimed their bench failed to stand.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) released a statement after the match to clarify what had happened as the controversy surrounding the story grew.
They revealed the Saudis had agreed the minute of silence could be held but that, because the tradition was not in keeping with their culture, they would not actively participate.
“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 attacks in London and in particular the two Australian women,” said the FFA.
“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.”
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