Saudi Arabia’s Football Federation have issued an apology after its football team failed to pay respect with a minute’s silence in memory of the London terror attack victims.
The statement claimed the SAFF “deeply regrets and unreservedly apologises for any offence caused.”
The Saudi team lined up in a random order across the pitch with the substitutes and coaching staff failing to rise off the bench.
The statement read: “The Saudi Arabian Football Federation deeply regrets and unreservedly apologises for any offence 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 on 3 June 2017, prior to the World Cup Qualifying match against Australia in Adelaide.
“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.”
Australian football chiefs have attempted to defuse the growing outrage.
In a statement, the FFA explained: “The FFA sought agreement from the Asian Football Confederation and the Saudi national team to hold a minute’s silence in memory of those lost in Saturday night’s terror bombings in London and in particular the two Australian women,” a spokesman said.
“Both the AFC and the Saudi team agreed that the minute of silence could be held.
“The FFA was 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.
“The local broadcaster, Fox Sports, was informed of this prior to the minute’s silence taking place.”
However, that seems to go against previous instances where Saudi teams have lined up to show respects.
Back in 2005, at the first match of the Silver Cup, respect in the form of a minutes silence was paid for the deceased King Abdullah.
Three terrorists mowed down pedestrians in a van before emerging with knives and stabbing revellers in the London Bridge and Borough Market area.
Australians Sara Zelenak, 21, and Kirsty Boden, 28, were among the victims killed in Saturday night’s terrorist attack.
Sara, a nanny. was separated from friends as they ran from the scene after a van ran down pedestrians.
“One in a million” nurse Kirsty was killed while “running towards danger” in a bid to help victims.
Tory leader Theresa May has been criticised during the general election campaign for selling arms to Saudi Arabia.
She also been criticised for “suppressing” a report into the funding of Islamist groups which is understood to name Saudi Arabia as being the main donors.
Labour rival Jeremy Corbyn said that “difficult conversations” were necessary with Saudi Arabia.
He said: “We do need to have some difficult conversations starting with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology.
“It is no good Theresa May suppressing a report into the foreign funding of extremist groups.
“We have to get serious about cutting off the funding to these terror networks, including Isis, here and in the Middle East.”
Australia won the match 3-2, leaving them in a strong position to qualify for the finals in Russia next summer.