England v Australia to be preceded by period of silence for victims in Israel and Gaza

England player Harry Maguire and Harry Kane
England players will wear black armbands against Australia

A period of silence will be held before England’s game with Australia for “the innocent victims of the devastating events in Israel and Palestine”.

The Football Association also said players would wear black armbands for the match at Wembley on Friday.

More than 1,200 people have been killed after Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a series of attacks on Israel.

Israel then launched air strikes on Gaza and stopped food, water, fuel and medicine going into the territory.

More than 1,300 people have been killed in Gaza since the retaliatory strikes, with 338,000 displaced.

“On Friday evening, we will remember the innocent victims of the devastating events in Israel and Palestine,” the FA said in a statement.

“Our thoughts are with them, and their families and friends in England and Australia and with all the communities who are affected by this ongoing conflict.

“We stand for humanity and an end to the death, violence, fear and suffering.”

It said only “flags, replica kits and other representations of nationality for competing nations” would be allowed inside Wembley for the match against Australia and Tuesday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy.

The FA statement did not include mention of the Wembley arch.

BBC Sport reported on Wednesday that the governing body was unlikely to illuminate the arch in the colours of the Israeli flag because of fears of a backlash from some communities.

Senior officials at the FA were understood to be wary of a perception they might be taking sides in the Middle East conflict.

Officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport wrote to major sports governing bodies on Wednesday asking them to mark the attacks in Israel with shows of support for the victims.

“In the light of the attacks in Israel, on behalf of the secretary of state we would encourage you to mark the events appropriately in line with previous events where sport has come together,” the letter read.

Last year, the FA lit Wembley’s arch in the blue-and-yellow colours of the Ukraine flag in solidarity with the country after it was invaded by Russia.

The arch was also illuminated in the colours of the France flag in 2015 in tribute to the people killed in attacks in Paris, and the colours of the Belgium flag adorned the arch in 2016 in respect of the victims of the Brussels bombings.

The Rugby Football League has also been holding talks to decide how to mark the events before Saturday’s Grand Final between Wigan and Catalans at Old Trafford.

It is understood to be planning to pay tribute to victims with a show of support before the match.

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team lit their stadium in blue and white “to show our unwavering support for the people of Israel”.

Source: BBC News

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