Suadi Arabia soccer player, Salman Al-Faraj, who dons jersey number 7, is being praised for his behavior at the World Cup qualifying match. With his hand behind his back and standing stoically in center field, Al-Faraj was the only player on his team to honor the minute-long silence for the London terror attack that left seven dead and more than 48 injured.
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The moment of silence took place before the qualifier where Australia was facing off against Saudia Arabia. Unlike Al-Faraj, his teammates decided to continue their warm-ups and not comply with the request for a moment of silence. Once the game finished, the 27-year-old midfielder was praised for his respectful nature.
His teammates didn’t receive the same treatment understandably. As this is the world cup qualifying match, it wasn’t just one region watching. It was the entire globe, and the outrage came quick and it came furiously.
Even Saudia Arabian officials expressed disdain in their players’ lack of respect for those lost with one official saying their behavior was “not in keeping with Saudi culture.”
Many who opposed the players’ behaviors were quick to point out that Saudia Arabia participated in the moment of silence when it happened to them. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be a two ways street though.
The captain of the Saudia Arabian team tried to do damage control once he realized they were getting a negative reaction from the crowd due to their behavior. As the crowd began to complain, he instructed his teammates to stand still and show respect.
The Saudi Arabian fans showed a similar lack of respect as reports indicated that they were speaking loudly and moving around the stadium during the minute of silence.
Once the game ended, the team was in the world’s spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation issued a formal apology, saying they “deeply regrets and unreservedly apologize for any offense caused.”
“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.”
Since the negative media attention, many are calling for a boycott of the Saudia Arabian team for the duration of the World Cup qualifier.