Football postponements criticized as ‘missed opportunity’ to pay tribute

London, September 10, 2022 (AFP) – English football bosses have come under fire for postponing all of this weekend’s matches following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, with the decision hailed as a “missed opportunity” to surrender Tribute to the nation’s oldest monarch.

After the Queen died on Thursday aged 96, the Premier League chose to cancel this weekend’s games in consultation with the British government.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told football bosses on Friday that there was no obligation to cancel or postpone sporting matches during the period of national mourning.

But the Premier League felt it was the right move to honor the Queen for her “extraordinary life and contribution to the nation”.

The second-tier Championship, as well as Leagues One and Two, followed the Premier League by postponing this weekend’s matches.

It wasn’t just professional football, as all Saturday and Sunday amateur leagues across the UK, including youth football, were cancelled.

However, the England and Wales Cricket Board started England’s third Test against South Africa on Saturday after rain called off play on the first day and postponed the second due to the Queen’s death.

The showdown in the series will take place over three days at the Oval, with a minute’s silence observed in memory of the Queen and the first performance at a sporting event of ‘God Save the King’, the now-altered British national anthem. given to Charles III is the new monarch.

Other sports have also resumed this weekend, with Premiership rugby matches, Super League games, the PGA Championship golf tournament and Sunday’s Great North Run all scheduled.

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Horse racing, the sport with which the Queen was most closely associated, will also resume on Sunday with the St Leger, one of five English classics and won in 1977 by her horse Dunfermline, the main race at Doncaster.

Former Liverpool and England striker Peter Crouch has questioned the temporary closure of football, tweeting: “I know it’s just one game and some things are much more important but imagine all our games took place this weekend.”

“Black armbands, observed silence, national anthem, real band playing, etc. for the millions of viewers around the world? Isn’t that a better farewell?”

‘ridiculous decision’

Manchester United, West Ham and Arsenal all paid tribute to the Queen by wearing black armbands and observing a minute of silence at their European matches on Thursday night.

West Ham fans even sang ‘God save the Queen’ during their match against FCSB at London Stadium.

The postponements have denied the opportunity for a similar show of respect from the rest of English football.

TV personality Piers Morgan, a prominent Arsenal fan, wrote on social media: “Ridiculous decision. Sporting events should go ahead. a) The Queen loved sport and b) It would be great to see/hear large crowds singing the National Anthem in tribute”. to the Majesty of her, as the West Ham fans magnificently did last night.’

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville responded by saying: “I agree, Piers. Sport can show better than most the respect the Queen deserves.”

Fans were equally frustrated at not getting a chance to pay their respects to the Queen.

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A statement from the Football Fans Association read: “We believe that football is at its best when it brings people together at times of great national importance, whether they are times of joy or times of mourning.

“Our view, which we share with the football authorities, is that most fans would have liked to go to matches this weekend and pay their respects to the Queen together with their fellow fans.

“Not everyone will agree, so it was not a perfect decision for the football authorities, but many supporters will feel that this was a missed opportunity for football to pay its special tributes.”

Football Association president Debbie Hewitt, who took part in Friday’s meetings with the government, defended the decision.

“This is a great example of how football works in unity. We fully agree 100 per cent that this was the right thing to do to pay our respects,” he said.

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