'A mark of respect'
UEFA calls off games; Ryder Cup in doubt
Updated: Thursday September 13, 2001 1:41 AM
LONDON (AP) -- Soccer matches in Europe's two club competitions were canceled, golf's Ryder Cup was in doubt and other sports around the continent debated whether to proceed following the terrorist attacks in the United States.
Organizers plan to go ahead with Asian World Cup soccer qualifiers, the Italian Formula One Grand Prix and the American-based CART race in Germany this weekend. NHL exhibition games in Scandinavia featuring the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche also remained scheduled.
But U.S team members for the Ryder Cup said they were unsure if their event would go ahead later this month.
The eight Champions League and 40 UEFA Cup games for Wednesday and Thursday were canceled by UEFA. It's the first time European soccer's governing body has postponed all its matches en masse. The German Bundesliga was considering canceling its weekend's matches.
But several countries -- and the Vatican -- criticized UEFA for playing Tuesday's games.
"Today, with great and guilty delay, came UEFA's decision to postpones the games," the Vatican paper, l'Osservatore Romano, wrote.
"Yesterday, on the contrary, as the whole world found itself exposed to the terrorist threat and as the American people plunged into mourning, it was decided -- in an inopportune way, to say the least -- to play the scheduled games."
Around Europe, many sports bodies deciding to go ahead with upcoming events.
American goalkeeper Brad Friedel said he would play for Blackburn Rovers in an English League Cup soccer game Wednesday night.
"I think at times like this it's best to do things that you enjoy and take your mind off what happened," Friedel said. "For the 90 minutes my mind will be distracted for the full amount of time. But it will be a strange feeling."
Motor racing's ruling body, FIA, said it would proceed with the Grand Prix in Monza, Italy on Sunday.
Saturday's German 500 in Klettwitz, 40 miles (60 kilometers) north of Dresden, would tentatively go ahead, said CART chief executive Joseph Heitzler. He said it was still possible that the first American-based CART series auto race to be held in Europe could be canceled, but a decision would be made Thursday.
In Stockholm, the NHL Challenge against Swedish club teams would go ahead, press spokeswoman Catarina Oscarsson said.
"Like all other people, the players are shocked," she told the newspaper Expressen. "They will train and play [the games] as planned."
Colorado is also scheduled to play a game in Helsinki on Tuesday against Jokerit Helsinki.
The Ryder Cup golf tournament between the United States and Europe, scheduled for The Belfry in England on Sept. 28-29, is a question mark.
"We're due to fly out on Sunday [Sept. 23] to England and my guess is that is too soon after this tragedy," U.S team member Mark Calcavecchia told Britain's Daily Express newspaper. "We are all devastated by what has happened. So many innocent people killed.
"We were due to have dinner with the president before setting off but that is not going to happen now. I think you can forget about the Ryder Cup for a few months at least."
Jim Furyk, a member of the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team two years ago, said: "We're supposed to leave in 13 days. It's an important event. It's the Olympics for us. But there are more important things in life."
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said security for February's Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City will be "reassessed and re-evaluated."
An Olympic conference on sports sciences in Salt Lake City, scheduled Sept. 16-21, was postponed.
Soccer leagues across Europe, including England, Scotland and Denmark, will hold a minute's silence before the weekend's matches and wear black arm bands.
Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, world soccer's governing body, said the Asian World Cup qualifiers would go on because soccer "must remain a beacon of hope."
"In tragic circumstances such as these, football must symbolize the ideals of fair play and nonviolence, and encourage people to respect the dignity of each and every human being," Blatter said.
Qualifiers were scheduled Friday between Iran and Bahrain, and Oman and the United Arab Emirates, with China-Uzbekistan and Thailand-Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen sent a message to the U.S. team as soon as he arrived Wednesday in Trinidad, where the Under 17 World Championship starts Thursday.
"Football is sport and sport is peace, and today's events are the exact antithesis of peace and of all that sport and common human decency stands for," Zen-Ruffinen said.
But while qualifiers are on, European club games were canceled "out of a mark of respect" for the victims of the attacks.
UEFA officials said it had been impossible to call off the eight Champions League matches which went ahead Tuesday night. But not everyone agreed with that decision.
Roma coach Fabio Capello, whose team lost 2-1 to Real Madrid in the Champions League Tuesday, said the match should have been called off.
Fredi Bobi of German club Borussia Dortmund agreed.
"It was perverse of the UEFA to say we had to play soccer," Bobi said after his team was held to a 2-2 draw in Kiev.
World Cup soccer organizers in South Korea said they planned to designate no-fly zones above the 10 venues during next year's tournament.
Rogge and Blatter said both the Mediterranean Games in Tunisia and the South East Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur would continue.