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Matches called off as riots spread across London
LONDON (AP) - Police ordered soccer clubs in London to postpone matches as violence and looting spread across the British capital Monday for a third night with buildings being set ablaze.
As police struggled to contain the spiraling disorder, League Cup matches due to take place at West Ham and Charlton on Tuesday were postponed due to security resources being stretched.
England’s friendly against the Netherlands on Wednesday at Wembley Stadium in north London is also under threat, although officials will meet with police 24 hours before the match to discuss the situation.
West Ham, though, said police told it to postpone the League Cup match against Aldershot on Tuesday because “all major public events in London were to be rearranged.”
The east London club said it was “because of the need to focus police resources elsewhere.”
“Whilst neither the club or police anticipate any issues around the game itself, the club has to comply with the police request,” West Ham said.
South London side Charlton said its cup match against Reading was being called off “on safety grounds” on advice from the police.
The violence, which is unrelated to any soccer issues, began late Saturday near Tottenham’s ground in north London when a peaceful protest against the fatal police shooting of a man in disputed circumstances degenerated into a rampage.
The damage at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane stadium was limited to a ticket office, which remains closed.
But Tottenham announced that stadium tours have been canceled for “safety reasons,” while the neighborhood’s main shopping street remains cordoned off on Monday, with steam still rising from burnt-out buildings.
The opening game of the Premier League season, however, is still due to go ahead.
“Following the disturbances in Tottenham over the weekend, the club has been in ongoing discussions with the necessary authorities regarding this coming weekend’s Premier League fixture against Everton,” Tottenham said in a statement. “We can advise fans that at this stage the game is going ahead and the Club is doing everything it can to ensure that this remains the position.”
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said the club is “deeply saddened” by the weekend rioting, in which buildings in the area were torched and police officers injured.
“The club is committed to supporting its community with help with both the physical clean up of our area and the longer term rebuilding of the community spirit,” Levy said. “It is more critical than ever that community, business and political leaders _ local and national, public and private _ now work closely together to support the regeneration of this area and we shall certainly look to play our part in that.”
But there has also been anger directed against the club among locals since Levy unveiled plans last year to bid for the right to move into the Olympic Stadium in east London after the 2012 Games. Although the stadium was awarded to rival club West Ham, Tottenham is still challenging that decision in court.
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