England game cancelled amid London riots
Tuesday 09 August 2011
The Football Association have confirmed that England's friendly against Holland at Wembley has been called off following a third night of violence in London.
The news seemed inevitable with disturbances taking place in places far removed from the area of Tottenham - where the original disquiet arose on Saturday evening.
With the Metropolitan Police unaware of how much further the violence would spread, there was little alternative other than to scrap the contest, for which around 70,000 tickets had been sold.
A brief statement from the FA read: "It is with regret that tomorrow's international fixture with Holland at Wembley has been called off."
Bristol City's Carling Cup tie with Swindon at Ashton Gate has also been postponed following trouble in the city overnight.
City chairman Colin Sexstone told the club's official website: "It's disappointing but we totally understand the reasons given by the police.
"Clearly the most important factor is people's safety and these are exceptional circumstances the police are dealing with."
Carling Cup ties at West Ham, Charlton, Crystal Palace and Bristol City have already been called off.
The move to cancel an England international is unprecedented in recent times, but supporters will welcome the early decision, as will the Dutch side who were due to fly out of Amsterdam this morning.
"The police in London could not guarantee the safety of our players and our supporters," said Bert van Oostveen, chief executive of the Dutch federation the KNVB.
He told Voetbal International: "The (commercial) damage runs into millions. I'm hoping for an elegant solution with the English FA."
England players, like most of the population, have been transfixed by images broadcast across the country.
Rio Ferdinand, who was born in Peckham, one of the areas affected, responded to this morning's cancellation on Twitter.
He said: "England vs Holland game is off, good call. Who wants to see a game of football when our country is in turmoil?"
Overnight he had said: "The scenes on Sky news right now are shocking..what is this all in aid of?? Innocent peoples [sic] homes + livelihoods have gone up in smoke-why?
"It seems these kids/people have no fear or respect for the police....maybe the army will get that respect??
"And I am not saying bring violence, I am saying the presence of the army may make these kids/people think twice about continuing this??"
Earlier, Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney had tweeted: "These riots are nuts why would people do this to there [sic] own country. Own city. This is embarrassing for our country. Stop please.".
England will head into their Euro 2012 double-header against Bulgaria and Wales next month without the benefit of a preparation game but were due to go ahead with a training session at London Colney this morning.
Trouble also flared in Birmingham but a West Midlands police spokesman indicated there was no reason to suggest tomorrow's third Test between England and India at Edgbaston will not go ahead as planned.
England, who are staying in hotel in the city, were expected at a scheduled practice session this morning.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen last night reported the hotel's doors had been locked, as disorder continued.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India have confirmed all their squad are safe and accounted for.
With London 2012 test events taking place across the capital this week, the continued trouble should not affect preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics, according to the BOA's director of communications Darryl Seibel.
"It makes an Olympic Games and a Paralympic Games all the more important. We need a reason to come together," Seibel told Sky Sports News.
"What better city to do it in than London. It is the only city to be honoured with the Olympic Games on three occasions."
Seibel also expressed confidence in the ability of the authorities to make sure next summer's Olympics were safe.
"We know the level of work and we know the level of planning that has gone into it."
Seibel added: "This is a reflection of the world we live in today. This is not a reflection of London."
Asked if he was aware of any damage caused to Olympic venues he said: "I'm not aware of it, no."
The beach volleyball test event on Horse Guards Parade started this morning and runs until Sunday.
The World Badminton Championships, which is doubling as a test event at Wembley Arena, started yesterday and has been unaffected.
On Saturday, open water swimming will take place in the Serpentine, Hyde Park and on Sunday, the road cycling event starts and finishes on the Mall.
Holland right-back Gregory van der Wiel admitted on his Twitter account that he was disappointed by the call-off.
He tweeted: "Too bad we are not going to London any more. The game against England is cancelled, because of the riots in London."
Club England managing director Adrian Bevington backed the decision to call the game off.
He said on Twitter: "Disappointing for game to be called off, but very good communication with met, brent and govt today - sensible decision."
London 2012 Olympic organisers are planning to press ahead with test events in the capital for the Games next year, including the beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade today.
The Surrey Cycle classic on Sunday, a test event for the cycling road race which will go through the streets of London, is due to take place as planned as is the marathon swimming event at Hyde Park on Saturday.
A London 2012 spokeswoman said: "A lot of detailed work has taken place regarding security plans for the Games and we will continue to review them together with the Met Police and the Home Office over the coming year."
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