Prior to a World Cup qualifier match between Australia and Saudi Arabia, a moment of silence was organized to pay tribute to the victims of the recent terror attack in London that claimed eight lives. The moment of silence was set for one minute, but Saudi Arabia did not pay their respects the way so many others do. It seems a clash of cultural instincts have led to a boil.
The image of the moment of silence being observed on the field has sparked a bit of controversy. With Australia’s players standing side-by-side with arms draped around each other during the moment of silence, Saudi Arabian players are seen taking their spots on the field. While it looks jarring, it may just be a bit of a cultural divide. The FFA confirmed the two teams had agreed to observe the moment of silence but noted the Saudi Arabian players would observe and respect the moment of silence in a different fashion than is customary for situations like this due to Saudi culture.
“Both the [Asian Football Confederation] and the Saudi team agreed that the minute of silence could be held,” a statement from the FFA explained, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. “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 view of the Saudi players taking their positions as the moment of silence was being announced in the stadium and then observed was picked up by British media outlets and sparked outrage over what looked to be a show of disrespect for the victims of the terror attack in London. Whether this explanation settles some down remains to be seen.
Australia won the match, 3-2, to draw even with Saudi Arabia in the qualifying group standings. Each are tied with Japan with 16 points, but Japan has one more game to play than Australia and Saudi Arabia.