Saudis regret snub of minute's silence

SYDNEY • Saudi Arabian football chiefs apologised yesterday after the national team was accused of "a disgraceful lack of respect" for failing to observe a minute's silence in Australia in honour of the London terror attack victims.

When the stadium announcer in Adelaide called for silence before their World Cup qualifier against the Socceroos on Thursday evening, the Australian team lined up at the centre circle with arms on their teammates' shoulders.

But most of the Saudis milled around, with team officials claiming the tradition of stopping to honour the dead was "not in keeping with Saudi culture".

It left fans and politicians in Australia fuming. Two Australians were among the eight killed last weekend when three Islamist extremists mowed down people on London Bridge before going on a stabbing spree.

"The Saudi Arabian Football Federation deeply regrets and unreservedly apologises for any offence caused by the failure... to formally observe the one minute's silence," federation president Adil Ezzat said in a rare statement.

Asked about the Saudi team's attitude, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said "everybody, everyone should be united in condemnation of the terrorists, and love and sympathy and respect for the victims and their families".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2017, with the headline 'Saudis regret snub of minute's silence'. Print Edition | Subscribe