The FA Cancelled England Friendly Because Of Player Safety Concerns Following London Riots

Wembley chiefs say decision not affected by money.

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The Football Association chairman David Bernstein admits England’s friendly was Holland was cancelled because player safety could not be guaranteed.

Three days of rioting in London have stretched police resources to the limit amid scenes of violence and looting.

The decision was taken after consultations between the FA, the Metropolitan Police, the Government and Brent Council following the horrific scenes in the capital since Saturday evening.

The security of players, officials and supporters could not be guaranteed by police so the game was called off.

The entire England squad and manager Fabio Capello gave their support to the decision were in attendance at the press conference given by Bernstein and Club England managing director Adrian Bevington.

“Due to the sporadic and widespread nature of the unrest, there are significant concerns in relation to the available emergency service resources to safely police this fixture,” Bernstein said.

“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.

“It was the question of resources, both of the police and the other emergency services.

“It was the question of transportation, certain concerns about protection of players from both sides, their travelling in coaches and so on, so there were a lot of issues.

“For these reasons, the game cannot go ahead. The FA wishes to make it clear it is in complete agreement with the advice of the Police, Government and Brent Council.”

“I am incredibly sad,” he added. “There are thousands of fans who would have been at the match, millions would have watched it on TV.

“It is terribly sad that a major sports event of this sort has to be cancelled in this way but we have to put safety and security matters first.

“There is no question about that. I think we have done the only thing we could do. There was no choice in this situation.”

Bevington read out a short statement from the players showing their support and calling for an end to the unrest:

“On behalf of the squad, we would like to say we are disappointed tomorrow’s game has been called off but obviously we understand the reasons behind this decision and support it.

“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 that has been ongoing.”

Defender Rio Ferdinand, who was born in Peckham – one of the areas affected – had earlier said about the decision on Twitter that it was a “good call”.

He added: “Who wants to see a game of football when your country is in turmoil.”

The Dutch federation (KNVB) will seek compensation for the game being postponed but Bernstein hopes it will be rescheduled sooner rather than later.

“This is not a decision driven by money,” he said. “That is the first thing to say. There are much more important considerations here.

“I haven’t seen their comments. Money is not the issue here. There are a lot more important issues than money.

“People are losing their businesses and homes, terrible things are happening. We will deal with the money, possible insurance and all those issues further down the road.

“The actual costs involved are not great. There is a loss of income but we believe this fixture will be rearranged next year in which case, the cost shouldn’t be very great.

“I spoke to the president of the Dutch FA this morning and he was greatly understanding and very sympathetic to our situation.”

Bevington said: “I can confirm I have spoken with the chief executive of the Dutch FA this morning and also various other representatives of the Dutch federation.

“The dialogue between ourselves has been extremely positive and the key point here is the game is to be rearranged and played at the earliest convenience.

“That is not straightforward with the international calendar but there are potential slots that could become available.

“Any losses through not playing the game could be regained by playing the fixture at the early possible convenience.

“We have a history of playing the Dutch quite frequently. This game is a reciprocal game from when we played in Amsterdam a couple of years ago.

“We are committed to playing the Dutch again and will do so.”

Bernstein is also adamant tomorrow’s postponement will not deter other teams from wanting to play England at Wembley.

He said: “I don’t think so. This is the first time this has ever happened.

“This is a very difficult situation but I’m sure that will not be a situation for the future.

“There is always great interest and great demand for other countries to play at Wembley and to play the England team so I don’t see that as an issue.”

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