Saudi Arabia has said Wednesday will be a national holiday as, on the Jeddah Corniche by the Red Sea as its seismic 2-1 World Cup win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina was celebrated as a coming of age.
The national football side’s remarkable victory was being seen as both a triumph on the pitch and a huge moment on the global sports stage, where the regional power has long sought a place in the spotlight.
Outsiders against an Argentine team on a 36-match winning streak surely delivered that and, on Tuesday afternoon and evening, it was all that mattered to Saudi leaders and the fans who circled public squares in convoys of cars, waving the country’s green flag and proclaiming a new era of international football.
The public holiday will be for all state employees “and the private sector, and male and female students in all educational stages”, the government announced on Tuesday evening.
“We are so happy about the result. It was an exceptional match from our falcons,” said Ghassan Alwan, 42, marketing director at the Saudi ministry of housing. “Our faith in our players was in the right place. We wrote history tonight.”
“Incredible, massive, amazing, fantastic,” added Abdulrahman Abed, a sports editor.
“Congratulations to everyone. This means a lot to every Saudi. This will give a huge boost to every Arabic team in the World Cup.”
Euphoria reached the inner circle of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was pictured embracing his brothers after the full-time whistle, as well as sports cafes and public parks across the country.