Friday, 9 June 2017
Saudi football chiefs apologise over London attack tribute
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 and some continued to stretch. Football officials said they had been told in advance that the "tradition was not in keeping with Saudi culture". An Australian MP called it "disgraceful". Football's world body Fifa says the Saudi team will not face sanctions. It said it had reviewed what had happened and judged that there were "no grounds to take disciplinary action".
Eight people were killed and 48 injured on Saturday when three men drove into pedestrians on London Bridge, before abandoning the vehicle and stabbing people in the surrounding area. Two Australians, Kirsty Boden and Sara Zelenak, were among the eight victims of the terror attack. Australian football officials said the Saudi team had agreed a minute's silence could be held.
But officials were "further advised by Saudi team officials that this tradition was not in keeping with Saudi culture and they would move to their side of the field and respect our custom whilst taking their own positions on the field", a statement from Football Federation Australia said. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation made an "unreserved" apology on Friday.
"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."