RIYADH: Saudi King Salman has declared a national holiday after the football team’s stunning World Cup win on Tuesday over Argentina, state media reported. The 86-year-old monarch “orders that Wednesday be a holiday for all employees in the public and private sectors, as well as male and female students at all educational levels,” the Al-Ekhbariya channel said on Twitter.
The move comes in the middle of final exams in the Gulf nation, indicating that they will have to be rescheduled. The Saudi Green Falcons bounced back from conceding an early Lionel Messi penalty to produce one of the greatest World Cup shocks thanks to a Saleh Al-Shehri equaliser and a sublime Salem Al-Dawsari winner at the Lusail Stadium in Doha.
Celebrations erupted throughout the capital Riyadh after the final whistle blew, with fans forming impromptu dance circles and waving the sword-emblazoned national flag from the windows of speeding cars.
Al-Ekhbariya posted pictures of King Salman’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, celebrating after watching the game with a group that included energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman. Turki al-Sheikh, an adviser at the Royal Court and head of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, announced on Twitter that admission fees would be waived at major theme parks and entertainment centres in Riyadh on Tuesday.
Few could have predicted that Herve Renard’s Green Falcons, ranked 51st in the world, would topple the twice-world champions led by the feted Messi, who has seven Ballons d’Or to his name.
The team’s next match is on Saturday against Poland.