- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s soccer team sparked social media outrage this week when its players roamed around and stretched during a minute of silence for victims of London’s June 3 terror attack.

An entire stadium of Australian soccer fans watched Thursday as Saudis took their positions during a minute of reverence for those who perished last week’s London Bridge massacre. A Fox Sports announcer said after the World Cup qualifying match that Saudi officials rebuffed the request.

Adam Peacock revealed on Twitter post-match that the minutes silence was approved pre-game by Asian Football Confederation Officials, but the request was refused by travelling Saudi team officials,” News.com.au, a News Corp-owned website, reported Thursday. “It’s understood Football Federation Australia attempted to [reason] with the visiting delegates.”

A spokesman for Football Federation Australia had a different take — the request was technically granted, although the Saudis would not take part in a foreign custom.

“Both the AFC and the Saudi team agreed that the minute of silence could be held,” the spokesman said. “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.”

“Wow just saw this … not sure what to think of it. Saudi players skipped the minute silence for #LondonAttacks,” wrote a viewer named Luke on Twitter.

“Notice how we are expected to show the utmost respect to their culture but they offer no respect in return,” added another.

The incident echoed a November 2015 incident in Turkey that involved nearly 20,000 booing fans at Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadium during a moment of silence for the 130 people killed during terror attacks in Paris.

The spectacle happened during a match between Turkey and Greece.

Thursday’s match ended with the Australia’s Socceroos besting the Saudi team 3-2.

Update:Saudi Arabia’s Football Federation issued a statement on Thursday condemning “all acts of terrorism.” The body said it “deeply regrets and unreservedly [apologizes] for any offense caused by the failure of some members of the representative team of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to formally observe the one minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the London terrorist attack.”

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