JEDDAH: The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has issued an apology after the national team was criticized for failing to observe a minute’s silence held for the victims of this month’s terror attack in London at a match in Australia this week.
The Australian team lined up to observe a minute of silence at the World Cup qualifying match in Adelaide but as they did so, the majority of the Saudi team continued to jog and pass the ball between themselves.
However, pictures show player Salman Al-Faraj appearing to face the opposing team with his hands held behind his back.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) said it had “sought agreement” from the Saudis and regional governing body, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), to hold the minute’s silence.
“Both the AFC and the Saudi team agreed that the minute of silence could be held,” a spokesman said, according to Reuters.
On Thursday, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation issued an apology and condemned the terrorist act, which left eight people dead on June 3.
“The Saudi Arabian Football Federation deeply regrets and unreservedly apologizes for any offense caused by the failure of some members of the representative team of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to formally observe the one minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the London terrorist attack.
“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.
“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.”
Australia won the match 3-2 to move level on 16 points in Group B with the second-placed Saudis and leaders Japan, who have a game in hand, with two rounds to play.
The top two teams win a place at the World Cup finals in Russia next year.
— With Reuters