Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Queen Elizabeth II: Arsenal, Man United and West Ham pay tribute as British sports mourn monarch’s passing

British sports paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II after her death on Thursday with football’s governing bodies in discussion with the government as to the status of events for this weekend and beyond. Buckingham Palace announced earlier on Thursday that the Queen, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, had passed away peacefully at the age of 96. The country, as well as the other 14 nations of which Elizabeth was sovereign, will now enter a period of mourning. Premier League clubs are expected to meet on Friday morning to discuss the weekend’s fixtures.

Europa League and Conference League matches involving British sides have gone ahead following consultation with competition governing body UEFA and the English Football Association (FA), given that news broke only an hour and a half before the later matches kicked off. Safety considerations were paramount in making the decision that the games should go ahead. Arsenal’s match away to FC Zurich had kicked off before confirmation of the Queen’s passing; prior to the game’s resumption for the second half, both sides undertook a minute of silence to pay tribute. Arsenal players wore black armbands.

Manchester United and West Ham United also observed a period of silence with players from the English clubs and their opponents wearing black armbands. Supporters at London Stadium chanted “God save the Queen.” Advertising hoardings at the London Stadium and Old Trafford were blacked out whilst flags were flown at half-mast “as a sign of our utmost respect” in Manchester United’s words.

A statement from the club said: “Manchester United shares the sorrow of the entire nation following the announcement from Buckingham Palace on the passing of Her Majesty, The Queen. The club recognizes her immense contribution to public life, including sport, both here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, and around the world. Everyone connected with Manchester United joins the wider football family in sending our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to The Royal Family.”

It remains to be seen whether any further matches scheduled for this weekend will take place. The EFL — which is responsible for fixtures in the second, third and fourth tiers of English football — said: “Consideration in respect of EFL fixtures will be discussed with the government and the wider sport sector during the period ahead and an appropriate announcement will be made at the earliest opportunity.”

Government guidance for the death last year of the Queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, left it up to individual sporting bodies to decide whether to postpone fixtures. When the previous monarch George VI died in 1952 football matches went ahead with hymn “Abide With Me” sung before kickoff. Rugby and hockey matches were postponed.

Sporting events in the United Kingdom that have been scheduled for Friday have already been postponed. Those include the PGA Championship event at Wentworth and the second day of the cricket Test match between England and South Africa at Lord’s, London. All horse racing events due to take place tomorrow have also been canceled.

A minute’s silence will be held before the first practice round at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali said:  “Formula One mourns the passing of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II. For more than seven decades she dedicated her life to public service with dignity and devotion and inspired so many around the world.

“Formula One sends its deepest condolences to the royal family and to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.”

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