Football: England match placed in doubt

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The Independent Online
England's World Cup qualifier with Moldova on 10 September could be in doubt following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The game is in danger of being cancelled if it clashes with Diana's funeral or any official day of mourning.

"We have an England match coming up and we will talk to all relevant parties, including the Government," the Football Association's spokesman, David Davies, said. The FA had recently been involved in talks aiming at forging links between the FA and the Princess, he added.

"We have been talking to charities close to Diana about joint projects that football might become involved with, and this is a huge blow," he said. "Glenn Hoddle was going to be involved in some of those projects. We have been talking to charities close to the Princess - notably Christian Aid in connection with the landmines campaign."

Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Belarus on Saturday at Aberdeen is also in doubt. "I think we have got to wait for a formal announcement from Buckingham Palace or the Government," the Scottish FA chief executive, Jim Farry, said.

Yesterday's games between Liverpool and Newcastle, Crewe and Port Vale, and Kilmarnock versus Motherwell were all postponed, while today's Old Firm derby between Celtic and Rangers will also not go ahead.Football authorities were yesterday still considering the rest of the week's fixtures.

Newcastle's manager, Kenny Dalglish, backed the decision to postpone his side's game. "It is time to be respectful," he said. "The whole nation will feel the same way as all of us at this terrible time. Diana, Princess of Wales was a wonderful lady who was always caring for those a lot worse off than herself."

A Liverpool Football Club statement read: "The club shares the nation's grief and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the Princess."

Both yesterday's rugby union games in England were postponed. Saracens' owner Nigel Wray and Richmond's chief executive Symon Elliott decided to call off their Premiership One match after consultation with the senior players.

"We picked up on the public mood and the decision to have only a two minutes' silence was not enough to mark this national tragedy," Wray said. "Playing the match would have been wrongly interpreted by public sensibilities."

The English Cricket Board decided on a two-minute silence before the start of every match in the AXA Life League, but Northamptonshire, who were due to entertain Durham, elected to postpone their game.

"We have a lot of connections with the Spencer family and a lot of buildings around here are named after them," a spokesperson said. "We've called it off as a mark of respect and so far we've only had one complaint."

The final day of England's Under-19 Test match against Zimbabwe at Canterbury went ahead, though flags flew at half mast and a minute's silence was observed before the start of play. The Village Cricket Final between Caldy and Shipton-under-Wychwood also went ahead at Lord's.

A full rugby league programme took place, with the Rugby Football League instructing all clubs to observe a minute's silence.

A motor racing meeting at Silverstone was postponed, while Hamilton racecourse announced they would hold a minute's silence before today's meeting.

Racing authorities will decide in the next day or two how the sport will pay its respects. Today's meeting at Hexham will go ahead but all racing may be cancelled on the day of the Princess's funeral.

The International Olympic Committee expressed its condolences. The IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, sent a letter of sympathy to the British Olympic Association, whose president is the Princess Royal, Diana's former sister-in-law.

The Princess Royal is a member of the IOC and her presence at next Friday's meeting of the IOC in Lausanne to select the host city for the 2004 Olympics is now in doubt.