Yemen's Houthis in U-turn after congratulating rival Saudi Arabia for historic World Cup win

Yemen's Houthis in U-turn after congratulating rival Saudi Arabia for historic World Cup win
The Houthi minister of information congratulated the Saudi team for its win against Argentina in the World Cup group openers, before deleting the tweet and issuing an apology to supporters of the Yemeni rebel group.
2 min read
23 November, 2022
Many Arabs across the region referred to the Saudi win as a win for all Arabs [Getty]

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels congratulated arch-rival Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for the team's historic 2-1 World Cup victory over Argentina, before deleting the message after it received fierce backlash.

Houthi Minister of Information Daifallah Al-Shami congratulated the Saudi team on Tuesday before issuing an online apology.

"One thousand congratulations, the #Saudi_team won over the #Argentinian_team, this win placed Arab football back on the map," Al-Shami wrote according to screenshots posted by activists online.

Al-Shami was soon forced to apologise after his message was criticised by Yemenis who have suffered from Saudi-led air strikes on Houthi-controlled Yemeni territories. 

"Higher awareness of Yemeni people… there are red lines that no party or person should cross… [including] the congestion caused by Al Saud [Saudi royal family] in the hearts of Yemenis,"  he tweeted on Wednesday.

"Greetings to those who… suffered and apologies to those who were offended."

Many Arabs across the region and in the diaspora expressed pride in the historic Saudi victory seeing it as a win for all Arabs.

Celebrations erupted across the Arab world, while in Saudi Arabia King Salman declared Wednesday a national holiday for all students and employees in the public and private sectors.

Others have cited "casual" Western islamophobia portrayed throughout the World Cup so far, including in reaction to Saudi Arabia's World Cup win.

Yemen's war erupted in 2014, when Houthi rebels seized Yemen’s capital Sanaa and ousted Yemen’s internationally-recognised government.

The conflict escalated when in 2015 a Saudi-led coalition launched a military intervention aimed at restoring the government to power. 

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting, and the situation in Yemen has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by the UN.