British football slammed for calling off game after Queen’s death

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Sept. 10, LONDON (Reuters) – British football has come under fire for its decision to postpone this weekend’s series of matches following the death of Queen Elizabeth, with some fans questioning the move unlike other sporting bodies who chose to let play resume.

The Queen, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, died at her home in Scotland on Thursday aged 96, prompting the English Premier League as well as the English Football League to postpone their next round matches as a sign of respect.

Football matches in Northern Ireland this weekend have also been postponed, while the Football Association of Wales has postponed fixtures for September 9-12. Professional Scottish football matches have also been called off. Read more

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There was widespread discontent that the FA had canceled grassroots football in England.

But England’s tie-breaking third Test cricket match against South Africa at The Oval resumed on Saturday, while the Rugby Premiership will also get underway after Friday’s two season-opening matches were postponed.

The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), which is the representative body for football fans in England and Wales, said the cancellation of matches was a missed opportunity for fans to pay their respects.

“We believe football is at its best when it brings people together at times of great national significance – whether those are times of joy or times of grief,” the FSA said.

Former England internationals Peter Crouch and Gary Neville echoed the group’s sentiments.

“Black armbands, observed silences, the national anthem, a royal band playing, etc. in front of millions of people around the world watching? Isn’t that a better send off,” Crouch said.

Neville added: “Sport can demonstrate better than anyone the respect the Queen deserves.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had said there was “no obligation to cancel or postpone sporting events and fixtures”, effectively leaving the decision to the governing body of each sport.

A portrait of Queen Elizabeth is displayed at a bus stop outside Westminster Abbey, following Queen Elizabeth’s death, in London, Britain September 9, 2022. REUTERS/John Sibley

‘DIFFICULT DECISION’

The Rugby Football League said it had made the “difficult decision” to ensure matches at all levels went ahead as the BMW PGA Golf Championship opted to restart as a 54-hole event on Saturday after the cancellation of Friday’s game.

Sunday’s Great North Run, the world’s largest half marathon with 60,000 participants, will also go ahead as planned, a move that has been welcomed by many competitors.

The British Horseracing Authority had suspended all events for two days but said they would resume on Sunday.

There were emotional scenes at The Oval in London as supporters gave a long cheer after singing ‘God Save the King’ before the start of the day’s action, with the vast majority of the crowd no doubt singing the anthem for the first time in their life.

But Neil Stevens, 58, a recent retiree and cricket fan, told Reuters he had mixed feelings.

“I was worried about today, if they were going to erase everything,” he said.

“I have mixed feelings about that. The problem is that it completely ruined this game. Are we going to get a result over three days? We had some results (over three days), but in a sense it took away that aspect of this game.

“But it was appropriate to do something to mark the passing of our monarch. I’m not a particularly royalist. You can’t retire in this job – you work until you drop dead. For that, it was appropriate to do something.”

Another fan, Alex Turner, 32, said he felt the Premier League had made a mistake and the England & Wales Cricket Board had made the smartest decision.

“It’s a good sign,” he added. “The ECB did well to keep things going. It was a better strategy.”

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Reporting by Hugh Lawson in London, Hritika Sharma and Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Written by Shrivathsa Sridhar; Editing by the London office

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