Football: England match cancelled for 'safety' - FA

9th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

England's friendly against the Netherlands was cancelled after officials ruled they were unable to guarantee the safety of teams and players in riot-hit London, FA officials said Tuesday.

The Football Association took the unprecedented step of scrapping Wednesday's international at Wembley after a third day of rioting spread across several areas of London.

The FA agreed to scrap the match after consulting police and local council authorities.

"We have received clear advice that due to the sporadic and widespread nature of the unrest there are significant concerns in relation to the available emergency service resource to safely police the fixture," an FA statement said.

"In light of these concerns regarding policing and emergency service provision the authorities have advised us that under the terms of our safety certificate we are unable to host the fixture, or guarantee the safety of visiting supporters or the teams. For these reasons the game cannot go ahead.

"The FA wishes to make clear it is in complete agreement with the advice of the Metropolitan Police, the Government and Brent Council.

"The Dutch FA (KNVB) were informed of the decision prior to their scheduled departure from Holland, and we thank them for their co-operation and support during this difficult period."

FA official Adrian Bevington said England's players supported the decision to call off the match.

"On behalf of the squad we would like to say that we are disappointed that tomorrow's game will be called off, but obviously we understand the reasons behind the decision and we support it," he said in a statement.

"We've all seen the terrible pictures on the television and the most important thing at this time is the safety of the fans and the general public.

"At this time the whole squad would like to appeal for calm and an end to the disorder which has been ongoing."

A statement from the Metropolitan Police said had the match gone ahead, large groups of fans would have been required to travel across London at a time when rioting has been at its peak in recent days.

"Following a discussion with the FA the advice given is based on the fact that the kick off time for this match fits within the time period that we have seen disorder happening across the Capital, and within a similar area," the statement said.

"Groups of fans would need to travel through the Capital during this peak period and this is something we are keen to avoid.

"We do not need the additional burden of a crowd of 80,000 people on our streets tomorrow night.

© 2011 AFP

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