CRAIG HOPE: Football Missed An Opportunity To Pay Tribute To The Queen By Postponing Matches

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

  • Queen Elizabeth II was truly cherished by the people, largely working class, who populate our sporting arenas
  • The government’s national grief counseling advised that canceling matches was not mandatory
  • It seems the Premier League has made the decision to delay more out of fear than out of respect

Unfortunately, the decision to postpone this weekend’s football matches is a missed opportunity.

An opportunity for rival supporters to unite, for our country to show the best of themselves and create some of the most powerful, memorable tributes to Queen Elizabeth II. I have no doubt that the scenes inside and outside stadiums across the country would have been truly remarkable and uplifting.

What do we do when people die? We’re getting together for a funeral. Do you remember the frustration and dismay when Covid-19 prevented that? Collective grief is part of the grieving process, yes. But often it’s more of a celebration, a lasting show of respect.

West Ham fans delivered a rousing rendition of 'God save the Queen' during Thursday's Europa League game after announcing her death

West Ham fans delivered a rousing rendition of ‘God save the Queen’ during Thursday’s Europa League game after announcing her death

The Queen will have a state funeral, of course, but most of us will watch that on television. This weekend, at football matches and sporting events, it was a chance to feel something, to pay your own respect, whether that be with dignified silence or by singing the national anthem en masse, opponent supporters and all that. It could be the last time we get to sing those words, “God save the Queen,” as part of a crowd.

What a sense of togetherness that would have created in a time of social crisis. It would also have left the royal naysayers and a watching world beyond a shadow of a doubt how much loved Queen Elizabeth II really was by the people, largely working class, who populate our sporting arenas.

It appears the Premier League has made the decision to delay more out of fear than respect. Fear of making the wrong call and being criticized for it, should some in attendance fail to show due respect. How sad. They had a chance to use football to raise morale, and how we need it. 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 eye on the trophy after the European Championship trophy was awarded to Germany at Wembley in 1996

The Queen has her eye on the trophy after the European Championship trophy was awarded to Germany at Wembley in 1996

I was in Switzerland on Thursday night filming Arsenal’s Europa League match when the news of the Queen’s death broke. I felt sadness, yes. But the emotion I experienced more than most was pride. Proud of the Arsenal supporters who spontaneously sang a national anthem. Proud when they shouted down the minority of home fans who wanted to ruin a minute of silence. Proud when a group of FC Zurich supporters wanted to talk about the Queen, not the football match on a train in the Swiss countryside after midnight. And pride is what I think any of us would have felt this weekend. Next weekend? The strength would have been in the immediacy of the raw emotion.

I was supposed to play against Newcastle in West Ham on Sunday. There was a chilling rendition of the national anthem during West Ham’s Europa League game on Thursday – watch the video on social media. This was only initiated by the fans in the stands. I wanted to experience that. And also in the Olympic Stadium, 10 years after the Queen ‘jumps out of a helicopter with James Bond’ at the London 2012 opening ceremony.

Her Majesty had always celebrated sports, and this was our chance for sports to celebrate her. Unfortunately it is a missed opportunity.

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

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

The Premier League has released a statement saying they have made the decision to postpone the games to honor Queen Elizabeth's

The Premier League has released a statement saying they have made the decision to postpone the games to honor Queen Elizabeth’s “extraordinary life and contribution to the nation”.

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

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

The following statement was shared by The Times' chief sports reporter, outlining what has been said this weekend regarding sports competitions

The following statement was shared by The Times’ chief sports reporter, outlining what has been said this weekend regarding sports competitions

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