The UK’s most famous private school, Eton College has been condemned for playing football on Saturday despite an FA order to stop all games to show respect following the Queen’s death.
Football fixtures at all levels, from Premier League matches to children’s sessions were cancelled this weekend, but not at Eton, which hosted two matches against Rossall, another fee paying private school.
Eton said they believed the matches – which had a minute silence before kick-off – “were not covered by the FA [Football Association] postponement as they were not FA fixtures.”
Football fans and players have felt particularly aggrieved at the FA’s ban given rugby, cricket and horse racing events all went ahead at the weekend (racing resumed its fixtures on Sunday).
Rossall tweeted about their games against Eton that went ahead, sparking a backlash before the school deleted the post. The condemnation has, however, continued with many references made on social media to partygate and Eton-educated Boris Johnson’s contempt for rules and laws throughout his premiership.
‘It seems the same rules don’t apply for Eton’
Football club and podcasters Talking Toffees called the Eton v Rossall games the “latest example of how the privileged have complete disregard for the rules we’re all supposed to follow.”
Earlier Talking Toffees posted a screenshot of the deleted Rossall tweet, commenting: “Whilst kids up & down the country are unable to play football this weekend, it seems the same rules don’t apply for Eton[.]
“Is that an FA referee too?”, they asked, referring to the image.
In a statement, Eton College said it mourns the death of the Queen and that the “whole school gathered together on Friday morning to pay their respects and chapel services were held.
“Two friendly football games were played with Rossall School on Saturday. A minute’s silence was observed by players and spectators beforehand. These trial games formed part of the school’s pre-season training programme and it was understood that they were not covered by the FA postponement as they were not FA fixtures.”
Chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport select committee Julian Knight MP, said: “It seems very strange that Eton choose to play on while millions across the country have been denied playing or watching games. This is a rather embarrassing episode for Britain’s most famous public school.”
Rossall’s “alleged attempts to cover-up the fixture” against Eton, the London Economic reports, were seemingly “undone by a local radio station which tweeted on Saturday: “A football team from Lancashire have stopped off to pay their respects at Windsor Castle. The @RossallSchool team are due to play Eton later this afternoon. #WindsorCastle #QueenElizabeth”.
Eton College, founded in 1440 by King Henry VI, is world-famous for schooling princes and prime ministers and enjoys charitable status. Both sons of King Charles III, William and Harry were sent to Eton, which also produced Boris Johnson and David Cameron, two of the last four Tory PMs. In total, Eton has been responsible for a staggering 20 of the UK’s 55 prime ministers.