MANCHESTER – France football stars Zinedine Zidane and Patrice Evra have withdrawn from a charity football match at Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground on Saturday also featuring David Beckham following the terror attacks in Paris.
Retired France World Cup-winner Zidane and former United’s player Evra were due to line up for a Rest of the World XI against a Great Britain and Ireland XI in a “Match for Children”. But when the team sheet for the match was released just over an hour before the schedule kick-off time, there were two blank spaces on the Rest of the World substitutes bench with the names of Zidane and Evra.
The two other Frenchmen – former United defender Mikael Silvestre and ex Arsenal favourite Robert Pires were both included in the Rest of the World starting XI.
A post on Manchester United’s official Twitter feed said “players will observe a minute’s silence and wear black armbands at the Match for Children in tribute to those who lost their lives in Paris”.
A separate United statement said, “Our sincerest condolences go out to those affected by tragedy and our thoughts are with the citizens of Paris.”
Following Friday night’s terrorist attacks, Manchester United and the organisers of “Match for Children” have been in consultation with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the decision was made for game to go ahead as planned. “As a precautionary measure the club administration and police will be implementing extra security procedures and as with any match day the safety of fans is the utmost priority,” said a joint statement.
At least 128 people were killed in a series of coordinated attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers across Paris on Friday.
The Saturday’s match in Manchester is the final leg of a global fund-raising tour that former United and England star Beckham has undertaken on behalf of the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, that began in Papua New Guinea and has also included visits to Antarctica, Argentina, Djibouti, Nepal and the United States.