Ryder Cup in doubt after terrorist attacks

From European football to this month's biennial transatlantic golf match, international sport faces disruption in aftermath of atrocities in the US
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The Independent Online

Champions' League and Uefa Cup matches were the first sporting events in Europe to be postponed yesterday in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the United States.

Champions' League and Uefa Cup matches were the first sporting events in Europe to be postponed yesterday in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the United States.

Although all domestic league and cup football in England and Scotland is still scheduled to go ahead, the week's remaining European games are being rescheduled. The Uefa Cup ties involving British sides will be played next Thursday, while the Champions' League matches between Manchester United and Olympiakos in Athens and Celtic v Rosenborg in Glasgow, which were due to be played last night, are expected to take place on 10 October.

Although motor racing authorities confirmed that Sunday's Italian Grand Prix will go ahead, doubts remain about other events, with the Ryder Cup in particular in question.

Officials from Uefa, European football's ruling body, said it had been impossible to stop Tuesday's matches without security problems and United's chief executive Peter Kenyon said: "In the context of the scale of what happened, cancellation is irrelevant." For United, the postponement was made easier by their link with baseball's New York Yankees. Kenyon was due to fly to New York today to discuss, and Ben Hatton, of their marketing department, was in the city during the attack.

The provisional date for United's return to Athens, 10 October, is when they are due to enter the third round of the Worthington Cup. United may be offered a bye into the fourth round or be faced with withdrawal.

Kenyon said they would offer supporters, some of whom had paid up to £875 for the Athens trip, some assistance to cover their losses. Leeds' chairman David Ridsdale said his club would do likewise.

Leeds, who were flying to Portugal for tonight's scheduled Uefa Cup tie against Maritimo, were in mid-air when the decision was announced. Their aircraft returned to Leeds.

Administrators were also looking further into the future. While the organising committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake said they will be reviewing their security measures, South Korea said they plan to ban flights above their 10 stadiums during the World Cup next year.

The Ryder Cup, due to be played 28-30 September, must be in some doubt. Some members of the American team want it to be postponed but Mark James, chairman of European Tours' tour committee, said: "My feeling would be that, if it did not go ahead this time, we would just wait until 2003."

Tiger Woods was due to meet the PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem to discuss the fate of the Ryder Cup. Asked whether it could go ahead, he said: "I really don't know. I've got to talk to the commissioner." The World Championship, scheduled to start in St Louis tomorrow, has been called off and Woods also said he may miss next week's Lancôme Trophy in Paris.

Britain's Davis Cup preparations were disrupted. Tim Henman was unable to join the squad in training at the Turnberry Isle resort 15 miles north of Miami before they travel to Ecuador for next week's crucial World Group qualifying play-off. With Miami airport closed to all traffic, Henman's flight from London was diverted to Bermuda, where he spent the night awaiting the lifting of the ban on all flights into America.

Britain's captain Rodger Taylor said there was no point worrying about the Henman delay, because "Tim is an experienced traveller and will know how to deal with what has happened to his plans.'' The British team are due to fly tomorrow from Miami to Guayaquil, Ecuador, where the tie is being staged.

Formula One officials plan on going ahead with this season's three remaining grands prix – in Italy on Sunday, the United States on 30 September and Japan two weeks later, though in a carefully-worded statement, the governing body FIA left open the possibility of cancelling or rescheduling races.

In Britain, the first day of the St Leger meeting at Doncaster went ahead as scheduled yesterday. Flags at the racecourse flew at half mast and a minute's silence was observed before the first race, in which jockeys wore black armbands.

The clerk of the course, John Sanderson, said: "It's not up to us to call off this race meeting. That would have to be a decision for the British Horseracing Board and they have said nothing."

In the US, baseball was cancelled for the second day – aside from work stoppages, the first time since D-Day in 1944 that a whole day of regular-season play was wiped out.

The world middleweight title fight between Felix Trinidad and Bernard Hopkins, an 18,000 sell-out scheduled for Saturday, was postponed because the venue, Madison Square Garden, may be needed as a makeshift mortuary.

Sport's reaction

FOOTBALL

All tonight's Uefa Cup matches have been postponed. The games involving British teams will be played on Thursday 20 September. These are: Maritimo v Leeds; AEK Athens v Hibernian; Chelsea v Levski Sofia; Ipswich v Torpedo Moscow; Aston Villa v Varteks Varazdin and Kilmarnock v Viking Stavanger. In the Champions' League, Olympiakos v Manchester United and Celtic v Rosenborg Trondheim, due to be played last night, are expected to take place on 10 October.

Tonight's Worthington Cup tie between Tottenham and Torquay will take place, as will all the weekend fixtures in England and Scotland. The German Bundesliga programme will go ahead, as will the Asian World Cup qualifiers tomorrow and Saturday.

MOTOR RACING

There are no plans at present to postpone the three remaining races – the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, the US Grand Prix on 30 September and Japan two weeks later.

GOLF

The PGA has yet to make a decision on whether the Ryder Cup will take place. The World Championship of Golf, scheduled to be played in St Louis from tomorrow, was called off.

RACING

Following a declaration of a national day of mourning in Ireland, tomorrow's meeting at Downpatrick has been postponed until Saturday. Racing in the United States has been halted indefinitely along with the Keeneland Sales in Kentucky, one of the world's leading yearling auctions.

ICE HOCKEY

Saturday's games between Bracknell Bees v Newcastle Jesters and Nottingham Panthers v Sheffield Steelers have been postponed due to the inability of some players to return from the United States. They will be replaced by Bracknell v Belfast Giants and Nottingham v Ayr Scottish Eagles. The Sunday games – Newcastle Jesters v Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers v Bracknell Bees – have also been postponed.

CRICKET

New Zealand are considering cancelling their tour of Pakistan.

BASEBALL

Last night's programme was postponed, while tonight's game between New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox is also off.

AMERICAN FOOTBALL

The NFL is still considering whether to go ahead with the weekend programme.

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