Saudi Arabia’s official team plane caught fire in mid air as they traveled to their World Cup match on Wednesday.
BREAKING: Saudi Arabia national team plane suffered an engine breakdown during the flight from Moscow to Rostov-on-Don and caught fire while landing.[via @ahdaafme]pic.twitter.com/fCJDws5YZD
— Futbol World (@FutbolWorId) June 18, 2018
The Green Falcons, who fell to a 5-0 defeat at the hands of hosts Russia on the opening day of the World Cup, were on their way to Rostov in preparation for their second Group A match when the incident happened.
Flames were seen from the engine as the Russian Airlines Airbus as they flew in to take on Uruguay on Wednesday.
An official statement read from the football association read: “The Saudi Football Federation wishes to reassure everyone about the safety of all members of the mission of the national team after a minor technical malfunction in an engine.
“The plane landed a few minutes ago at Rostov on Don Airport, and UNOMIG personnel are now safely heading to their residence.”
Videos uploaded to twitter show fire shooting from the engines underneath the wings.
The plane was a Russian Airlines Airbus A319-100 and no one was hurt in what must have been a terrifying incident.
— A. (@AhmedMashaly24) June 18, 2018
The players were then filmed calmly leaving the stricken jet, which is 12 years old. They are now on their way to the team hotel in the south of the country after leaving Moscow.
The aircraft was initially purchased as new by American airline Frontier Airlines, before being bought by Russian-based Donavia in July 2013.
Airline Rossiya have leased the plane since April 2016.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation then pointed out that the airplane which developed the technical fault was not linked to Saudi Arabian airlines and was provided by the IATA organizational committee for teams participating in the World Cup.
They next take on Uruguay after a chastening 5-0 loss to hosts Russia last Thursday – their second heaviest defeat at the World Cup.
Their boss Juan Antonio Pizzi, a former Spain international born and bred in Argentina, called that defeat ‘shameful’.
Saudi Arabia face Uruguay on Wednesday at the Rostov Arena before finishing the group stages with a clash against Egypt next Monday in Volgograd.