JEDDAH: Turki Al-Asheikh, chairman of the board of directors of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority (GSA), took “full responsibility” for the national team’s loss at the World Cup opener in Moscow on Thursday and called for a new generation of young players.
Al-Asheikh said that the national team was provided with everything it needed, including one of the best coaches available, “however these were the capabilities of the current team.”
He said only the team and he himself should take responsibility for Friday night’s results and not the coach.
Al-Asheikh said the solution was to start from scratch and to send 1,000 young Saudis — aged 12 to 16 — abroad and invest in them.
تركي ال الشيخ:
كشفت حقيقة هذا الجيل وعارضني الشارع pic.twitter.com/a45A0LwY8s
— صحيفة الرياضية (@ariyadhiah) June 14, 2018
His comments, recorded in a video, were shared widely on social media.
One of the first responses to Al-Asheikh’s comments came from the Saudi Royal court adviser, Saud Al-Qahtani, who tweeted a series of posts in praise of Al-Asheikh taking responsibility. Al-Qahtani said this establishes a new culture in Saudi Arabia.
لماذا كتبت التغريدات السابقة؟ الجواب البديهي سيكون: العلاقة والصداقة التي تجمعنا. قد يكون ذلك أحد الأسباب في عقلي الباطن. السبب الحقيقي: ثقافة تحمل المسؤولية من الكثير من الوزراء غائبة. الغالب يلقي بالخطأ على غيره. تركي يؤسس لثقافة حكومية جديدة كلنا معها وندعمها ونطالب بها.
— سعود القحطاني (@saudq1978) June 14, 2018
Al-Asheikh also said that Saudi Arabia would take “necessary legal action” against sport channel BeIN after social media users complained of biased coverage of the Saudi-Russia match.
Necessary legal action will be taken in relation to BeIN wrongdoings against K.S.A, its sports & officials, and for exploiting sports to achieve political goals. This proves Saudi authorities' true stance when banning this network from airing on its soil. @fifacom_ar @FIFAcom
— تركي آل الشيخ (@Turki_alalshikh) June 15, 2018
Saudi Arabia have not won any of their past 11 games at the World Cup (drew two, lost nine). Their last win in the competition dates back to the group stages of the 1994 edition (1-0 v Belgium).
This is Saudi Arabia's fifth World Cup finals tournament and the fifth in which they have failed to win their opening match (drew one, lost four).
Saudi Arabia have conceded 14 headed goals at the World Cup since their debut in 1994, that is five more than any other team over that period (USA - nine).