MANCHESTER, November 14 – France football stars Zinedine Zidane and Patrice Evra have withdrawn from a charity football match at Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground on Saturday also featuring David Beckham following the terror attacks in Paris.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 Evra, a former United player, 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 3:00pm local (1500 GMT) kick-off time, there were two blank spaces on the Rest of the World substitutes bench where the names of Zidane and Evra, now with Italian side Juventus, should have been.
However, 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 & wear black armbands at the #MatchForChildrenin tribute to those who lost their lives in Paris”.
Meanwhile a separate United statement said: “Our sincerest condolences go out to those affected by last night’s tragedy and our thoughts are with the citizens of Paris.
“Following last night’s terrorist attacks, Manchester United and the organisers of today’s UNICEF Match For Children have been in consultation with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the decision has been made for today’s game to go ahead as planned.
“As a precautionary measure the club and GMP will be implementing extra security procedures and as with any matchday, the safety of fans is the utmost priority,” added the statement, which also asked fans to arrive early and not to bring a bag to Old Trafford “unless it is absolutely necessary”.
At least 128 people were killed in a series of coordinated attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers across Paris on Friday.
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.
This fixture will see Beckham link up with former United manager Alex Ferguson, who is the coach of the Great Britain and Ireland side.
Another of Beckham’s former managers, Carlo Ancelotti, is also involved as the Italian is the coach of the Rest of the World team.