Sport

Football and the Queen

STOP FOOTBALL?

Queen Elizabeth II was not a huge football fan. That July 1966 afternoon, when Bobby Moore wiped himself down before shaking her gloved hand as she passed him the Jules Rimet trophy, was actually the last football match she attended before the Euro 96 final. After 1966, it was left to the likes of the Duchess of Kent to hand out the trophies at Wembley until, latterly, Prince William, an unlikely but committed Aston Villa fan, became the royal family’s football face, and eventually president of the FA.

The family’s association with football may have strengthened in recent years, but given much of the national mood, it still seemed a surprising move for the Premier League to lead the decision to stop football this weekend. “To honour her extraordinary life and contribution to the nation, and as a mark of respect, this Premier League match round will be postponed, including Monday evening’s game,” confirmed a statement. The Football League concurred, saying it was “aligned with the approach that the Premier League and the FA will take with their competitions this weekend”. The WSL and Scottish football followed suit.

For many supporters the inconvenience will prove costly, with non-refundable flights, hotels and trains having to be written off. Casual workers – stadium staff, security, car-park stewards, swag sellers, burger flippers, even humble hacks – will lose out, too. It remains to be seen how the football authorities respond to the inevitable complaints, though breath ought not to be held. The FA’s decision that all grassroots football would be cancelled also leaves kids, parents, and park/pub players kicking their heels this weekend. That Premiership Rugby goes ahead, the Oval Test resumes and the Great North Run starts only adds to the dismay, but beyond that righteous indignation, perhaps a moment of reflection, even from The Fiver.

Among the late Queen’s first year of engagements was her attending and presenting the trophy at the 1953 FA Cup final, the [Stanley] Matthews Final – Blackpool 4-3 Bolton – perhaps the greatest of all. Even if the Queen was no football fanatic, the span of her 70 years in which football has become almost unrecognisable from a time of 2-3-5, nailed-on studs and heavy, flannelette shirts reinforces her place in the game’s history.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“We believe football is at its finest when bringing people together at times of huge national significance – be those moments of joy or moments of mourning. Our view, which we shared with the football authorities, is that most supporters would have liked to go to games this weekend and pay their respect to the Queen alongside their fellow fans. Not everyone will agree, so there was no perfect decision for the football authorities, but many supporters will feel this was an opportunity missed for football to pay its own special tributes” – the Football Supporters’ Association argues that the British game has squandered an opportunity to pay tribute to the Queen.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Shamrock Rovers have condemned their fans who engaged in “highly insensitive and callous” chants about the Queen’s death, at the Europa Conference League game against Djurgården.

Shamrock Rovers players stand for a minute’s silence before the game.
Shamrock Rovers players stand for a minute’s silence before the game. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho/Rex/Shutterstock

TalkSport have sidelined former player Trevor Sinclair from appearing on air for a tweet he posted in relation to the Queen’s passing.

Arsenal opened their Europa League campaign with a 2-1 win at FC Zürich, with both teams observing a minute’s silence for the Queen before the second half kicked off.

Manchester United lost 1-0 at home to Real Sociedad in a sombre Europa League game at Old Trafford, while West Ham fought back to beat FCSB 3-1 amid a similar atmosphere in the Conference League match at the London Stadium.

PSG are contemplating legal action after some of their supporters may have “damaged their reputation” by getting involved in violent crowd trouble before the Conference League match between Nice and Cologne, in which 32 people were injured.

Wales will host Bosnia-Herzegovina on 6 October in their Women’s World Cup playoff semi-final, while Scotland are at home to Austria on the same date.

Amnesty International has warned that staging the men’s World Cup in Saudi Arabia would be “virtually impossible” if Fifa applies its human rights criteria to any bid it makes, amid reports the country wants to host the men’s 2030 tournament.

Graham Potter has signed a five-year deal worth more than £50m at Chelsea.

And Galatasaray have snapped up free agent Juan Mata on a two-year deal.

STILL WANT MORE?

Style, central midfield and strikers: Graham Potter’s key Chelsea issues to tackle. By Ed Aarons.

The new Chelsea manager.
The new Chelsea manager. Composite: Getty, Reuters

Our final two WSL season previews are here: No 11 – Tottenham and No 12 – West Ham.

Jürgen Klopp may have no quick fix for Liverpool’s problems, writes Andy Hunter.

And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

WHAT THERE IS THIS WEEKEND

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