The Saudi Arabian Football Federation has issued an apology after facing an outcry as the country's football team had snubbed a tribute for London terror attack victims.
The organisation came under radar on Thursday (8 June) when the players were called to hold a minute silence in memory of the victims ahead of the match at Adelaide Oval – Stadium in North Adelaide, South Australia.
Australia team lined up in the centre circle with arms on their teammates' shoulders, while their opposition team from Saudi Arabia, although silent, spread around the pitch and continued to jog and stretch.
The governing body of Saudi football said in a statement that it "deeply" regretted and "unreservedly" apologised for their players not "formally" observing the minute's silence.
"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."
"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," it added.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) has said that the Saudi team management and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) knew about the plan before match and had agreed to it.
"Both the [Asian Football Confederation] 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 FFA said in a statement.
In response, the AFC said it had monitored the incident, but it could not take any disciplinary action against the team as only International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), which has jurisdiction over all World Cup qualifiers, has the right to do so.
Criticisms over the incident
The Thursday incident has drawn wide-spread criticisms. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said that he expected the Saudi Arabian government would take a strong action against the team.
"I am sure the Saudi government themselves will be having a strong word to them," Joyce said and added that if the players did that deliberately it was very wrong.
Victorian federal senator Derryn Hinch called the team's action an insult and added: "What they did last night should not be forgotten. It is an insult. Saudi Arabia — that is where those terrorists came from.
"And you think now that Donald Trump has done a multi-billion-dollar arms deal with that country — it is a disgrace."
Senior Australian Labour politician Anthony Albanese described it as "a disgraceful lack of respect".
"There is no excuse here. This isn't about culture. This is about a lack of respect," he said.
Australian Prime Minister has also commented on the incident and said that though he has not seen the video but thought everybody should condemn "terrorism".
"The whole world, the whole free world is united in condemnation of that terrorist attack and terrorism generally and in sympathy and love for the victims and their families," he told reporters in Tasmania.
The London bridge attack killed eight people and injured several others.
On 3 June, three radicalised men mowed down people with a white van on London Bridge and then stabbed several others with sharp blades and knives in the nearby Borough Market.
Two of the attackers were identified as Khuram Butt, 27, and Rachid Redouane, 30.