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Saudi receives apology for World Cup plane fire

Saudi receives apology for World Cup plane fire

The Saudi team’s plane caught fire on Monday evening during a flight to Rostov-on-Don

The Saudi Football Federation has received a written apology from the organising committee of the 2018 football World Cup in Russia after a plane carrying the kingdom’s national team caught fire on Monday evening.

The team were travelling on a Rossiya Airbus A319 from St Petersburg to Rostov-on-Don, where they are due to play their second Group A match against Uruguay on Wednesday.

As it came in to land, the plane “suffered a technical fault with one of its engines, with a bird getting caught seen as the preliminary cause,” a Rossiya airlines spokesman said in a statement.

Video footage posted on social media appeared to show flames flickering underneath the plane’s right wing.

Read: Saudi football team land safely in Rostov after plane catches fire

The organising committee said in a letter to the chairman of the board of the Saudi Football Federation, Adel Ezzat, that the aircraft involved in the incident would be barred from transporting the Saudi team and any other team participating in the tournament, according to a Saudi Press Agency report on Tuesday.

It also attached a statement from Russia’s Civil Aviation Organisation stating that the incident “did not necessitate an emergency landing” because the aircraft’s engines were operating normally. The plane was able to complete a regular landing.

An investigation into the incident is continuing.

Saudi Arabia has had a controversial start to its first World Cup in 12 years.

In the build-up to the tournament the kingdom was engaged in a spat with Qatar’s beIN Sports over broadcasting rights, having previously taken the company’s channels off the air at part of a boycott of the Gulf neighbour.

Read: Saudi football fans may miss out on World Cup amid Qatar broadcasting spat

The Saudi Football Federation then filed a complaint with the International Federation of Football (FIFA) over alleged “political media abuse” it suffered from the channel’s presenters and analysts during a 5-0 loss to Russia in the tournament’s opening game.

The Saudi authority claimed that beIN Sports broadcast “political messages aimed at insulting Saudi Arabia and its leaders in the framework of incitement and spreading hatred among fans and people in the region”, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The website sports4everyone.org also created a petition to protest the “politicisation” of World Cup coverage by the broadcaster, while earlier the Saudi Football Federation said the national team would face a disciplinary penalty for their poor performance.

Read: Saudi mulls legal action against Qatar’s beIN Sports

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