– Saudi football chiefs apologise over London attack tribute

June 9, 2017

A minute's silence for victims of London attacksImage copyright

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The Saudi team did not join Australia in linking arms

Saudi football chiefs have apologised after their national team elected not to take part in a minute’s silence for victims of the London Bridge attack.

Australian players linked arms as a sign of respect before Thursday’s World Cup qualifying match at Adelaide Oval.

Saudi players took up field positions.

One Australian MP called it “disgraceful”. Football officials said they had been briefed in advance that the “tradition was not in keeping with Saudi culture”.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation made an “unreserved” apology on Friday.

  • Full story: London Bridge attack
  • In pictures: Tributes to victims

“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,” it said in a statement.

“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.”

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Image caption

The decision was widely criticised in Australia

The minute’s silence was organised by Football Federation Australia (FFA), who said it had been briefed beforehand that Saudi players would “respect our custom whilst taking their own positions on the field”.

Several Australian politicians criticised the Saudi team.

“This is not about culture,” one MP, Anthony Albanese, told the local Nine network.

“This is about a lack of respect and I thought it was disgraceful.”

Two Australians, Kirsty Boden and Sara Zelenak, were among the eight victims of the terror attack.

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