Saudi Arabia defeat Bahrain to reach West Asian Under-23 Championship semifinals

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Saudi supporters apologize to Japanese captain, taunts after World Cup qualifiers

RIYAD (Reuters) – Saudi football fans, officials and former players have condemned the behavior of a minority of supporters who mocked Japanese captain Maya Yoshida after her team’s 1-0 loss in the qualifiers for the World Cup Thursday in Jeddah.

The incident was filmed by a fan on his cell phone and later posted to social media, prompting Saudi football fans to launch a Twitter campaign under the hashtag, Saudi fans apologize to Japan .

Center-back Yoshida, 33, was preparing to give a post-match interview when the taunts from the stand began. The furious player started to protest with the crowd before storming the pitch.

Soon after, Saudi fans flooded social media platforms with messages of support for Yoshida.

Sports analyst Hatim Khayami, a former Saudi national team player and former chairman of Al-Wehda football club in Mecca, called the behavior of the small group of supporters “inappropriate and disappointing.”

He told Arab News: “It is not our behavior as Saudis, we love all people and all nations. I would like to express our apologies and express our love and appreciation to the Japanese people.

“I would like to convey this message to them that what happened Thursday night with the Japanese captain after the game of four or five teenagers does not represent the Saudis. I’m sure these boys this morning regret what they did.

The incident spiked what had been a glorious night for the Saudi squad, which now has a maximum of nine points from three matches in Group B of the Asian qualifiers for the upcoming World Cup.

Coach Hervé Renard’s team now face China on Tuesday, and another win would represent a giant step towards Qatar 2020.

Ibrahim Al-Qassem, secretary general of the Saudi Football Federation, took to Twitter on Friday to express his disappointment at what had happened.

“I apologized to the secretary general of the Japan Football Association and these fan segments do not represent the Saudi community,” he said.

Saudi presenter Turki Al-Ajma also criticized the behavior of supporters on his popular daily show “Koora”, stressing that if supporters are to do their utmost to cheer their team on during a match, they should show respect after that. -this.

Mohammed Abdul Jawad, former Saudi national team captain, said: “Unfortunately, a small minority of people have behaved inappropriately and in a way that does not reflect our support. Some scenes were unacceptable and distorted our celebration. “


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