Saudi Arabia’s football players caused a storm today when they snubbed a minute’s silence in memory of the London terror attack victims.
Their opponents Australia team lined up arm in arm before their World Cup qualifier in Adelaide to remember the eight victims, which include two Aussies.
However, the Saudi team were stood randomly on the pitch while officials and players on the bench refused to stand up.
One player continued to warm-up through the silence but one did stand with his hands behind his back in tribute.
Any pre-planned tributes must be cleared by FIFA and the information would ordinarily be passed to both competing teams.
However, Adam Peacock, a presenter with Fox Sports Australia, tweeted the Asian Football Confederation approved the minute’s silence against the wishes of travelling Saudi officials. He added that the Football Federation of Australia “tried to reason” with the Saudis but were unable to persuade them to participate.
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 minute’s silence was paid for by 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.
“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.