Minute's silence causes controversy in Australia

Adelaide - When the stadium announcer called for a minute's silence to honour the victims of last weekend's London attack, the 11 Australian players on the field lined up at the centre circle with arms on their team-mates' shoulders.

Their opponents from Saudi Arabia, however, milled about separately on the other side, seemingly ignoring the gesture.

The Australian soccer federation, known as FFA, said after the match that the Saudis knew about the plan to hold a minute's silence before Thursday's World Cup qualifying match but declined to participate.

"Both the (Asian Football Confederation) and the Saudi team agreed that the minute of silence could be held," the Australian federation said, 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."

Typically, FIFA representatives meet with officials from both teams and the referee a day before a World Cup qualifier to discuss all game protocol issues, including plans for a minute's silence.

Two Australians were among the eight people killed in Saturday's attack.

Australia ended up winning the match 3-2, leaving it and Saudi Arabia tied with 16 points in their qualifying group. Japan also has 16 points but has a game in hand.

Tomi Juric scored two goals and Tom Rogic added the third for Australia in Adelaide.

"The three points are important when you see how close the group is," Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said. "I thought our second 45 (minutes) was outstanding."

Salem Al Dawsari and Mohammed Al Sahlawi scored for the Saudis, who are led by former Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk.

Australia plays at Japan on August 31 and hosts Thailand on September 5 in its remaining matches. In between, the Australians will play at the Confederations Cup in Russia.

The top two countries in the six-team group qualify for next year's World Cup in Russia, with the third-place country advancing to a playoff.

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