Saudi Arabian Soccer Team Refuses To Honor Terror Victims, Dissing Opening Ceremony

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RWC News Saudi Arabian Soccer Team Refuses To Honor Terror Victims, Dissing Opening Ceremony

The Saudi soccer team refused to take part in a moment of silence for victims of the London terror attack.

The Saudi Arabian team caused a stir recently in a soccer game against Australia. At the start of the game, the Australian team lined up for a minute of silence to honor the victims of the London Bridge terrorist attack. The Saudi Arabian team refused to take part in honoring the victims.

The teams were preparing to play in the World Cup qualifier at the Adelaide Oval when the stadium announcer called for a minute of silence to begin. The Australian team linked arms together in a line on the center circle while the Saudi Arabian team stood around in a random formation as the silence began.

According to Adam Peacock, who works as a presenter for Fox Sports in Australia, the Asian Football Confederation approved the minute’s silence against the wishes of Saudi Arabia. The Football Federation of Australia were then unable to persuade the Saudi Arabian officials to agree to participate in the tribute to the fallen British of the terrorist attack.

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During the silence, instead, the Saudi Arabian players stood still with their arms behind their backs or continued their warm-up routine throughout the silence. Reports suggest that the Saudi Arabian substitutes on the bench also failed to observe the tribute.

The incident sparked quite a bit of outrage on social media, one user tweeted “I hope Fifa call out Saudi Arabia on the clear lack of respect shown prior to kick-off. Not participating in the minute’s silence is disgusting.”

During the game, the Australian Socceroos team beat Saudi Arabia 3-2 which puts them as tied with Japan at the top of their world cup qualifying group.Kirsty Boden and Sara Zelenak, two Australian girls are dead because of the terrorist attack in London. Saudia Arabia does not care.

Kirsty Boden and Sara Zelenak, two Australian girls are dead because of the terrorist attack in London. Saudia Arabia does not care. In the attack, 8 people were killed when 3 men attacked pedestrians with knives on the London Bridge and in roads around Borough Market.

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RWC News Saudi Arabian Soccer Team Refuses To Honor Terror Victims, Dissing Opening Ceremony

Two of the victims were Australian, Kirsty Boden and Sara Zelenak.

In response to the outrage created by the incident, the Saudi Arabian officials have tried to explain away their refusal to partake in the minute of silence. They stated that the “tradition was not in keeping with Saudi culture.” An MP in Australia said their response was “disgraceful.”

RWC News Saudi Arabian Soccer Team Refuses To Honor Terror Victims, Dissing Opening Ceremony

Fifa, which has fined countries for fans chanting “bitch” or an equivalent of it as being “anti-gay”, says that refusing to honor victims of terrorism is a-ok.

The world body Fifa organization has said that the Saudi Arabian team will not face sanctions for their actions. Fifa said they had reviewed what had happened and judged that there were “no grounds to take disciplinary action.”

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However, the Saudi Arabian team was still supposed to have taken part, according to the Football Federation Australia. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation made a statement on Friday that read, “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.”

They continued, saying, “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.”

Some have questioned if it is really against “Saudi culture” to observe a minute of silence. It has been a subject of debate among Islamic clerics and Imams. Moderates do not object to the practice and consider it to be an appropriate expression of respect for the deceased, while hard-line Salafist clerics and Imams believe that it is religiously prohibited.

In Indonesia, which is the world’s largest-majority country it is not uncommon to find minutes of silence at football matches to pay tribute to the victims of natural disasters, or individuals who have died.

Others have pointed out that despite the actions of the Saudi Arabian team at the recent game against Australia, that they have engaged in moments of silence in the past for other events. Some have suggested that this means the controversy may not be that they disagree with the moment of silence but rather do not feel remorse over the attack. Saudi Arabia is the main exporter of the Salafist extremist religion that the attackers in the recent London and Manchester attacks in the UK followed.

RWC News Saudi Arabian Soccer Team Refuses To Honor Terror Victims, Dissing Opening Ceremony

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refused to make a statement either way in regards to Saudi Arabia’s disrespect over dead citizens of the United Kingdom and Australia.

Australian MP, Anthony Albanese, told the local Nine Network “This is not about culture, this is about a lack of respect and I thought it was disgraceful.” When asked about the incident, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he had not seen the video and added, “The whole world… is united in condemnation of that terrorist attack and terrorism generally.”

In the past players from the Al-Ahli Saudi FC observed a one minute silence before the Qatar Airways Cup match with FC Barcelona in December of 2016 in memory of players from the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense who died in a plane crash on November 28th.

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Emma Laftchu
I began reporting for RWC News on October 12th of 2016. Prior to that I was a reporter for WOKR Radio.

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