Saudi Arabias national football team have been criticised for failing to observe a minutes silence held as a tribute to the Australians killed in the London Bridge attacks before Thursdays World Cup qualifier against the Socceroos in Adelaide
Saudi Arabias national football team have been criticised for failing to observe a minutes silence held before Thursdays match against Australia in Adelaide.
The Socceroos lined up in the centre of the pitch before the World Cup qualifier and held the brief silence as a tribute to the two Australians killed in the terrorist attack in London at the weekend. As they did so, the Saudi Arabia team continued jogging, passing the ball between each other and taking their positions on the field. Pictures from the match show a single Saudi player, Salman al-Faraj, appearing to stand facing the Australia team with his hands behind his back.
Adam Peacock, a presenter with Fox Sports Australia, said on Twitter the Asian Football Confederation has approved the minutes silence against the wishes of travelling Saudi officials. He said the Football Federation of Australia tried to reason with the Saudis but were unable to persuade them to participate in the tribute.
Sara Zelenak, 21, from Brisbane and the South Australian Kirsty Boden, 28, were killed in Saturday nights terrorist attack. Zelenak was working in London as a nanny and Boden was a nurse, whose family said she died running towards danger, in an effort to help people on the bridge. Two other Australians were stabbed in the neck in the attack, which has been claimed by the terrorist group Islamic State.
The decision not to participate in the tribute was met with criticism on Twitter.
Others defended the Saudi team, suggesting the minutes silence was not a recognised way to show respect and condolences in the countrys culture or in Islam more broadly.
But that appeared to clash with other instances of Gulf countries holding minutes silences, including to mark the death of the former Saudi King Abdullah.
Another image appeared to show a domestic Saudi team, al-Ahli Saudi FC, standing for a minutes silence before a Qatar Airways Cup match against Barcelona in December 2016.