CRAIG HOPE: Football missed chance to pay tribute to Queen by postponing matches

CRAIG HOPE: Football sadly missed an opportunity to pay tribute to the Queen and boost morale by postponing this weekend’s games… Her Majesty has always celebrated sport and this was our chance for sport to celebrate her

  • Queen Elizabeth II was truly loved by the popular, largely working class people who populate our sporting grounds
  • The government’s national mourning directive advised that the cancellation of matches was not mandatory
  • It seems the Premier League made the decision to postpone more out of fear than respect

The decision to postpone this weekend’s football matches is, unfortunately, a missed opportunity.

A chance for rival supporters to come together, to show our country at its best and create some of the most powerful, memorable tributes to Queen Elizabeth II. I have no doubt that the scenes on and off the pitches across the country would be truly remarkable and moving.

What do we do when people die? We are gathering for a funeral. Remember the disappointment and upset when Covid-19 prevented that? Collective mourning is part of the grieving process, yes. But, often, it’s more of a celebration, an ongoing show of respect.

CRAIG HOPE: Football missed chance to pay tribute to Queen by postponing matches

West Ham fans broke into a rousing rendition of ‘God save the Queen’ during Thursday’s Europa League game after her death was announced.

The Queen will have a state funeral, of course, but that will be something most of us watch on TV. This weekend, at football matches and sporting events, it was a chance to feel something, to pay your respects, whether it was in dignified silence or the mass backlash of the national anthem, opposition fans and all. It could have been the last time we could sing those words, “God save the Queen,” as part of a crowd.

In a time of social crisis, what a feeling of unity it would have engendered. It would also leave royal naysayers, and a watching world, in no doubt about how beloved Queen Elizabeth II really was by the popular, largely working-class people who populate our sporting arenas.

The Premier League, it seems, took the decision to postpone more out of fear than respect. If some of the attendees do not show proper reverence, they are afraid of making the wrong call and being criticized for it. How sad. They had the opportunity to use football to boost morale and how we need that. The brave call was to play.

The Queen presents England captain Bobby Moore with the Jules Rimet trophy after the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley Stadium

The Queen presents England captain Bobby Moore with the Jules Rimet trophy after the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley Stadium

The Queen has her eyes on the trophy after presenting Germany with the European Championship trophy at Wembley in 1996

The Queen has her eyes on the trophy after presenting Germany with the European Championship trophy at Wembley in 1996

I was in Switzerland covering Arsenal’s Europa League game on Thursday night when news of the Queen’s death broke. I felt sad, yes. But the feeling I experienced more than most was pride. Proud of the Arsenal fans who sang an impromptu national anthem. Pride when they then shouted down the minority of home fans who tried to break the minute’s silence. Pride when, on a train in the Swiss countryside after midnight, a group of FC Zurich fans wanted to talk about the Queen, not the football match. And pride is what I think each of us would feel this weekend. Next weekend? The power would be in the immediacy of raw emotion.

I was scheduled to be at West Ham against Newcastle on Sunday. During West Ham’s Europa League match on Thursday, there was a stirring rendition of the national anthem – watch the video on social media. This was only started by the fans in the stands. I wanted to experience this. And at the Olympic Stadium, too, 10 years after he “jumped out of a helicopter with James Bond” at the opening ceremony for London 2012.

Her Majesty has always celebrated sport, and this was our chance for sport to celebrate her. Unfortunately, it’s a missed opportunity.

The Premier League and English Football League have postponed this weekend's matches

The Premier League and English Football League have postponed this weekend’s matches

The Premier League issued a statement saying they had taken the decision to postpone matches to honor Queen Elizabeth's

The Premier League issued a statement saying they had taken the decision to postpone matches to honor Queen Elizabeth’s “extraordinary life and service to the nation”.

There are concerns that next week's matches could also be delayed as police are redeployed to London for the Queen's funeral

There are concerns that next week’s matches could also be delayed as police are redeployed to London for the Queen’s funeral

The following statement was shared by the chief sports reporter for The Times, outlining what has been said about this weekend's sports games

The following statement was shared by the chief sports reporter for The Times, outlining what has been said about this weekend’s sports games

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