The decision by English professional football authorities to postpone all weekend matches following the death of Queen Elizabeth II has come under criticism, including from former players who see it as a « missed opportunity » to pay him a final tribute.
Following the announcement of the Queen’s death on Thursday, the Premier League decided to postpone all weekend fixtures as a mark of respect to Elizabeth II, highlighting « her extraordinary life and contribution to the nation ».
The Premier League took the decision even as the UK government felt the postponement of sporting competitions was not mandatory in this time of national mourning.
Other disciplines have thus decided to resume competition on Saturday after having put their events on hold on Friday, to pay tribute to the monarch: this is the case of cricket, with a meeting between England and South Africa, the rugby championship or a PGA Tour event.
Former Liverpool and England striker Peter Crouch questioned whether Premier League matches should be postponed: “I know it’s just a game and some events are much more important but imagine if the matches had taken place this weekend. The black armbands, the minutes of silence, the national anthem (…) in front of millions (of viewers) watching around the world. Wouldn’t that have been a better way to say goodbye to him? »
During their European meetings on Thursday evening, Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham had paid tribute to the queen, wearing black armbands and observing a minute of silence. West Ham supporters have even chanted “God save the Queen” several times.
These marks of respect have visibly fueled criticism of the Premier League’s decision, which famous TV presenter Piers Morgan called ‘ridiculous’.
“Sporting events should be maintained. 1/The Queen loved sports and 2/It would be nice to see/hear large crowds singing the national anthem in tribute to Her Majesty”he said, receiving support from ex-international defender Gary Neville.
Arsenal fans also expressed their frustration: “Our position, which we have shared with the football authorities, is that the vast majority of supporters would have liked to go to the stadium this weekend and pay their respects to the Queen”.
But Football Association president Debbie Hewitt defended the decision: “We all agree 100% that it was the right decision to pay tribute” to the queen, she judged.