British football has been criticized for its decision to postpone the round of matches this weekend following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, with some fans questioning the move unlike other sporting bodies who have chosen to allow play to resume.
The Queen, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, died at her home in Scotland on Thursday at the age of 96, prompting the Premier League as well as the English Football League to postpone the next round of matches as a sign of respect.
Football matches in Northern Ireland have also been postponed this weekend, while the Football Association of Wales has postponed matches from September 9 to 12. Professional matches in Scottish football have also been cancelled.
There was widespread alarm that the FA had abolished popular football in England.
But England’s third crucial Test cricket match against South Africa at The Oval resumed on Saturday, while the Premier Rugby Championship will also start after the two season-opening matches were rescheduled on Friday.
The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), the representative body for football fans in England and Wales, said the cancellation of matches was a missed opportunity for fans to show their respect.
“We believe that football is at its best when it brings people together at times of great national importance – whether it is moments of joy or moments of mourning,” the Free Syrian Army said.
Former England internationals Peter Crouch and Gary Neville echoed the sentiment of the group.
“Black badges, silence observed, national anthem, Royal Band playing, etc. for millions around the world watching? Isn’t that the best farewell?” Crouch said.
“Sports can do better than most of the respect that the Queen deserves,” Neville added.
The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) said there was “no obligation to cancel or postpone sporting events and fixtures,” effectively leaving the decision to each sport’s governing body.
The Rugby Football League said it had made the “difficult decision” to ensure matches could continue at all levels while the BMW PGA Championship chose to restart as a 54-hole event on Saturday after Friday’s game was called off.
Sunday’s Great North Run, the world’s largest half marathon with 60,000 participants, will run as planned, a decision many runners have welcomed.
Britain’s horse racing authority has suspended all events for two days but said they will resume on Sunday.
There were touching scenes at The Oval in London where fans applauded at length after singing “God Save the King” before the event day began, and no doubt the vast majority of the audience were singing the anthem for the first time in their lives.
But Neil Stevens, 58, a newly retired cricket fan, told Reuters he had mixed feelings.
“I was worried about whether they would clean up the whole thing,” he said.
“I’m mixed about it. The problem is that it totally messed it up as a match. Are we going to get a result for three days? We did get a couple of results (from three days), but to some extent it just took away that aspect of this game.”
“But it was appropriate to do something on the occasion of the death of our King. I am not particularly royal. You cannot retire in this job – you work until you die. So, it was appropriate to do something.”
Alex Turner, another fan, 32, said he felt the Premier League had gotten it wrong and the England and Wales Cricket Board had made the smartest decision.
“It’s a good sign,” he added. “The ECB has done well to keep things going. It was a better strategy.”