The Saudi Arabia national football team has been labeled "disgraceful" after it refused to take part in a minute's silence for the victims of the recent terror attacks in England.
Shortly before the team's World Cup qualifier match against Australia on Thursday evening at the Adelaide Oval, the stadium announcer called for a minute's silence. The Australian national team linked arms at the halfway line, only for the Saudis to walk around separately in their own half.
A statement released by Football Federation Australia after the game said Saudi officials had agreed to let the minute's silence go ahead, but also said that the tradition was "not in keeping with Saudi culture".
“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," said the statement.
Labor senator Anthony Albonese called the scenes a "disgraceful lack of respect" on the Today show on Friday morning.
"That was a disgraceful lack of respect not just for the two Australians killed, one of whom was a young South Australians, all of those victims of that terror attack in London," he said.
"There is no excuse here. This isn't about culture, this is about a lack of respect. I thought it was disgraceful."
The incident caused a huge reaction on social media.
However, there was also reaction from Saudi fans, who said there had never been a minute silence for terror attacks in the Middle East.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has reportedly apologised for “any offence caused” by the decision not to partake in the tribute.
“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,” a statement 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.
The Socceroos ended up winning the match 3-2, after a sublime strike from Celtic player Tom Rogic in the 63rd minute.
Later in the day, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said "everybody, everyone, should be united in condemnation of the terrorists" responsible for attacks in London, Baghdad, and Melbourne respectively.
"The whole free world is united in condemnation of that terrorist attack and terrorism generally, and in sympathy and love for the victims and their families," he said.
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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