Saudi football chiefs apologise over London attack tribute

Saudi Arabia v Australia

Football bosses in Saudi Arabia have apologised after their national team elected not to take part in a minute’s silence for victims of the London Bridge attack.

The Saudis were playing Australia in a World Cup qualifier, but while Australian players linked arms as a sign of respect for those who died – which included two Australians – they instead took up field positions while others continued to stretch.

Football officials said they had been told in advance that the “tradition was not in keeping with Saudi culture”.

Nevertheless, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation apologised in a statement released on Friday.

“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 said.

“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.”

Australian football officials said the minute’s silence had been agreed upon prior to the start of the match, although they were advised by opposition team officials that the 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”.