The Daily Telegraph

Eton faces criticism for playing football after FA cancels fixtures

- By Ben Rumsby

ETON has been condemned for playing two football matches in defiance of the cancellati­on of all fixtures as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The public school, where both the Prince of Wales and Duke of Sussex studied, played host to Rossall School after games from the Premier League down to grassroots level were called off.

Photograph­s from Saturday’s matches emerged in a Twitter post from Rossall, a private boarding school in Lancashire.

It showed a minute’s silence taking place in honour of the late Queen before they kicked off.

The post was later deleted, as was one on both Facebook and Twitter recording a visit by Rossall’s footballer­s to Windsor Castle en route to nearby Eton.

Julian Knight MP, the chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, said it was for individual sports to decide on postponeme­nts.

But he added: “It seems very strange that Eton choose to play on while millions across the country have been denied playing or watching games. This is a rather embarrassi­ng episode for Britain’s most famous public school.”

Among those to criticise the decision to go ahead with the games was Peter Daly, who runs men’s football team Talking Toffees FC and an associated podcast.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “While kids up and down the country were unable to play football, it seems the same rules don’t apply for Eton.”

Eton said in a statement: “All at Eton College mourn the death of Her Majesty the Queen, remember with gratitude her extraordin­ary service and offer their deepest sympathy and condolence­s to the Royal family. The whole school gathered together on Friday morning to pay their respects and chapel services were held.

“Two friendly football games were played with Rossall School on Saturday.

“A minute’s silence was observed by players and spectators beforehand. These trial games formed part of the school’s pre-season training programme and it was understood they were not covered by the FA postponeme­nt as they were not FA fixtures.”

The Telegraph has been told the FA, the Independen­t Schools Football Associatio­n and the English Schools’ Football Associatio­n have no jurisdicti­on over such matches.

The cancellati­on of elite and grassroots football – and in particular youth matches – following the death of the late Queen has proven highly controvers­ial.

The opposite decision was taken in rugby union, cricket and most other sports.

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