- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

1:52 p.m.

MUNICH — Saudi players who are chosen as FIFA’s man of the match during their World Cup games will refuse the award from sponsor Anheuser-Busch.

“It’s a matter of principle. No special meeting or decision needed to be taken. Saudi players will not accept an award linked to the maker of an alcoholic beverage,” Abdullah al-Dabal, a senior Saudi soccer federation official told Associated Press.

He said as representatives of a Muslim nation, it was unacceptable for any of the Saudi players to accept such an award. Saudi officials told organizers before yesterday’s match against Tunisia.

“It was straightforward, and they understood,” al-Dabal said.

Alcohol is banned in conservative Saudi Arabia, and anyone found in possession of alcohol in the kingdom faces flogging.

“If any of our players play well enough to deserve a man-of-the-match award, they will refuse to accept it. It’s simple,” al-Dabal said. “Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, and the players are Saudis and represent that religion and that land.”

The match ended in a 2-2 draw, and the man of the match award was given to Tunisia’s Ziad Jaziri.

“We will activate common sense in this situation, but it is a given that no Saudi player will be nominated for the award, simply because we know for certain that they will refuse to accept it,” a FIFA official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The award is a silver mug with the Anheuser-Busch logo on it.

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