Saudi education ministry dampens down Al-Hilal celebrations

Saudi education ministry dampens down Al-Hilal celebrations
Saudi fans cheering for the Al-Hilal during the Saudi team's match with Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds on Sunday. (AN photo by Basher Saleh)
Updated 25 November 2019

Saudi education ministry dampens down Al-Hilal celebrations

Saudi education ministry dampens down Al-Hilal celebrations
  • Asir governor's request for region's schools to let students leave early and watch game rejected
  • Schools must stay away from such events, or else in the future other team supporters will be expect the same treatment

RIYADH: The streets of Riyadh were ablaze with celebrations after the Saudi football team Al-Hilal beat Urawa Red Diamonds 2-0 early Sunday in the second leg of the AFC Champions League in Japan, bringing the aggregate result to 3-0. However, the ministry of education was concerned.

The governor of the Asir region, Prince Turki bin Talal, instructed education directors in the region that schools allow students leave early so they could watch the match, a spokesman for the Emirate of Asir province said.

However, the ministry of education did not approve.

The Ministry of Education spokesperson, Ebtesam Al-Shehri, tweeted, “The Ministry of Education considers that educational institutions are vital systems of society, with educational messages that do not fit their involvement in the competitions of sports clubs.”

In a letter she wrote that education must stay away from these events, or else in the future other team supporters will be expect the same treatment.

Nonetheless, many parents kept their children at home or picked them up early to watch the match. “My son is a pure Hilaly in and out. I told him I’d pick him up from school early, but he didn’t believe me and didn’t want to miss out on watching the game. He was absent for the day,” said Um Abdulrahman, mother of a 7th grader.

Celebrations and festivities alike lit the country, with mass celebrations in the capital celebrating the victory. Cars honked with the Al-Hilal flags waving and drove through the streets with cheers and songs blasting through the windows.

General Entertainment Authority Chairman Turki Al Sheikh said in a tweet: “Tonight 50% discount to enter the Boulevard and all cafes, restaurants, cinema and everything inside the Boulevard on the occasion of the victory of Al-Hilal. Fireworks at 9 p.m. Congratulations!”