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Cultural Disrespect?

As fate would have it, after last weeks horrific attacks in London, teams from Australia and Saudi Arabia lined up to play a soccer match in Australia.

Two of the people killed in the attack were Australian – Nanny Sara Zelenak, 21 and Nurse Kristy Boden – while two other Australians – Candice Hedge and Andrew Morrison – were injured. Sadly, Boden was rushing to the scene to help others when she was attacked and murdered by the terrorists.

Before the start of the soccer match, officials told both teams that there would be a moment of silence in honor of the victims.

The FFA sought agreement from the Asian Football Confederation and the Saudi national team to hold a minute’s silence in memory of those lost in Saturday night’s terror attack in London and in particular the two Australian women,’ the spokesperson said.

‘Both the AFC 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.

Pictures show the Australian team lined up at the halfway mark, with the Saudi players ignoring the gesture as they get in formation to start the game.

Saudi players on the bench refused to stand for the minute’s silence.

Many people were angered and rightfully so.

First, when in Rome….

The Saudis were in Australia. If you want people to respect your traditions when in your country, respect the traditions of other countries when you visit there.

Secondly, the Saudis have participated in moments of silence on the soccer field prior to games previously. This leads many to wonder if this was a “cultural” issue as the Saudis claim or whether it was a statement of supporting the terrorists and their actions against the west.

Third, apparently no one told the Saudis that they were acting like petulant butt wipes.

We are constantly being told that we need to respect other cultures and not disrespect them and yet that is what the Saudi team did.

Yesterday the Saudi government released a statement on the issue:

The statement read: “The Saudi Arabian Football Federation deeply regrets and unreservedly apologises for any offence 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 on 3 June 2017, prior to the World Cup Qualifying match against Australia in Adelaide.

“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 would have been good if the statement had included a promise not to do the same thing in the future, but of course that didn’t happen. (And we fervently and sadly believe that this situation will occur again.)

We have always believed that sports and tragedies can bring all people together. We all share the same feelings when a loved one is harmed or killed. We all share the joy, triumph, and disappointment that playing a game can and does bring. These are common emotions. These are feelings on which we can and should build bridges and hope for understanding.

That may be too much for the Saudis to understand though. Instead of seeking and participating in a common, unifying practice, the team gave Australia and the rest of the world a giant middle finger.

(As a bit of karma, the Australian “Socceroos” won the match 3-2.)

Frankly, we think Australia showed a great deal of restraint in not decking the Saudi players after the match.

Respect that, buttheads.



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