Friday, June 09, 2017

Outrage as Saudi football team snub minute's silence for London attack victims

The Saudi Arabia’s national football team on Thursday refused to observe a minute’s silence held before a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Australia in Adelaide.

The host lined up in the centre of the pitch before the match and held the brief silence as a tribute to the two Australians killed in the terrorist attack in London at the weekend.

But Saudi team disregarded the solemn honour and we're instead jogging, passing the ball between each other and taking their positions on the field.

Pictures from the match show a single Saudi player, Salman al-Faraj, appearing to stand facing the Australia team with his hands behind his back.

Saudi players on the bench refused to stand for the minute's silence as well.

A spokesperson from the Football Federation Australia said they had been advised prior to the match that the Saudi team would not be taking part.

'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,' the spokesperson 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.

There were outrage on the social media especially Australian and British football fans who vented their anger and lashed out against the Saudi team.

'Minutes silence for London terror, Saudi players wandering around like they don't give a f***, Saudi fans shouting the whole time #AUSvKSA,' a man named Adam tweeted.

Others called for official measures to be taken against the team.

'I hope FFA call out Saudi Arabia on the clear lack of respect shown prior to KO. Not participating in the minutes silence is disgusting,' user PG3_12 wrote.

Some Saudi fans, however claimed it is against Islamic culture to take a moment of silence to respect the dead.

'They come from a different culture. They just don't understand the point of being silence for a minute to show sadness.. we never do it in KSA,' one fan wrote.'

But that appeared to clash with other instances of Gulf countries holding minute’s silences, including to mark the death of the former Saudi King Abdullah.

Moreover domestic Saudi team, al-Ahli Saudi FC observed minute’s silence before a Qatar Airways Cup match against Barcelona in December 2016.

An Islamic cleric also suggested the Saudi Arabian team refused to take part in a minute's silence for the London terror victims because they believe 'it is not a sin for a Muslim to kill a non-believer'.

Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi says it is a 'lie' to say the Muslim culture does not remember the dead with a moment of silence, and instead argues the football team did not partake in the mourning because they stand with the jihadist men.

'They did not stop for a moment of silence because according to Wahhabi Islam - which governs Saudi Arabia - it is not wrong or a sin for a Muslim to kill a non-Muslim,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

Minutes of silence are usually held in the Premier League , and Muslim players do not boycott the mark of respect.

Australia went on to win the match 3-2 , putting the country on track to qualify for the next World Cup in Russia in 2018.

Story by Cosmos Chukwuemeka

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