Sultan bin Fahd won't hear a bad word spoken about the Saudi national football team. Outraged at journalists for criticising the team on TV, the Saudi prince picked up the phone and gave them a telling-off live on TV - something that did not go down well with the Saudi web.
The sports journalists were taking part in a talk show about the Saudi team's defeat (6-5) to Oman in the Gulf Cup final on January 17. Fahd, who is currently president of the kingdom's Youth and Sports department (equivalent of sports minister), did not appreciate the commentators' tone. When phone-ins began, Fahd took it upon himself to call the show, and lecture the journalists live on TV. He finished by saying: "If you're not well-mannered enough, then let me educate you myself". The journalists, looking down at their feet, were visibly shocked. Only one of them, who's connected to the royal family, dared to talk back to the prince, who then put the phone down on him. The video has caused a stir in Saudi Arabia, where chain emails and Facebook groups are calling for the president of sport and youth to step down.
On Wednesday evening the prince was questioned over his actions by national channel al Arabiya. He explained that it was "human error", and didn't bother apologising as the journalists had hoped.
UPDATE (30 Jan. 09): the affair is still causing trouble in the kingdom. Highly influential Prince Salam, the governor of Riyadh, has joined his outraged compatriots in writing a letter to the king, asking for an end to "irresponsible behaviour" from his nephew, Prince Fahd. The letter was supposed to be private but it's already circulating the web - possibly due to a leak organised by parliament.
Images from the Saudi sports channel.
Caricatures posted on Facebook
Posted on this Facebook group.
At the entrance to the TV studio:
"Come on, don't be scared"
"No, no, I don't want to I don't want to".
"I demand that the prince steps down"
Fowzan Alharbi is a mechanical engineer at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Riyad. He's created a Facebook group about the incident.This is really shocking. It demonstrates irresponsibility and lack of respect. I demand that the prince steps down from his post as president of youth and sports."
"His behaviour could push journalists to self-censor themselves"
Fahd Saoud is a sports journalist in Rhiyad. He works for the news site Elaph.com.Coming from such an important person, this verbal assault is really quite regrettable. I can understand that the prince was under a lot of pressure when he was listening to such harsh criticism about his team, but I'm afraid that his behaviour could push journalists to self-censor themselves."