Saudi Arabia footballers ignore tribute to London attack victims

Saudi Arabia's players ignored the minute's silence held in honour of the two Australians murdered in terrorist attack. Picture: BRENTON EDWARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Saudi Arabia's players ignored the minute's silence held in honour of the two Australians murdered in terrorist attack. Picture: BRENTON EDWARDS/AFP/Getty Images
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The Saudi Arabian national team have faced condemnation after they failed to observe a minute’s silence to remember the Australians killed in the London terrorist attack ahead of the two nations’ World Cup qualifying match.

As Australia lined up around the centre circle, before Thursday’s game, to pay tribute to the two Australians murdered during the attack on Britain’s capital at the weekend, the Saudi Arabia players walked off to take their positions with players continuing to stretch and warm-up during the silence.

Footage shows only one player, number seven Salman al-Faraj, staying put, facing the Australians with his hands behind his back, turning his head to see his team-mates heading off in different directions.

The minute’s silence was in memory of 21-year-old Sara Zelenak and Kirsty Boden, 28, who both lost their lives, while a further two Australians were stabbed in the neck during the attack.

According to Fox Sports Australia presenter Adam Peacock the Asian Football Confederation had given the tribute the go-ahead despite the reluctance of travelling Saudi officials. He said than Australia’s football federation even tried to persuade the team to take part but were rebuked.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) released a statement on Friday saying it “deeply regrets and unreservedly apologises for any offence caused”.

“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 read.

“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.”

Celtic’s Tom Rogic scored the winning goal in the 3-2 victory, playing the full 90 minutes in Adelaide.