x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

United cancel Jakarta game after bombings

The English champions cancel the Jakarta leg of their Asia tour after the hotel where they were due to stay was bombed.

The Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney makes his way through the security and Malaysian fans upon the team's arrival at their hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
The Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney makes his way through the security and Malaysian fans upon the team's arrival at their hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Manchester United have cancelled the Jakarta leg of their Asia tour after the hotel where they were due to stay in the Indonesian capital was bombed today. The English champions were scheduled to play against an Indonesia 'All Star' team on Monday on the second leg of their preseason tour, which also included stops in Malaysia, South Korea and China. The team cancelled the Indonesia leg, however, after bomb blasts ripped through the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta's business district, killing nine people and wounding dozens.

"It's a bit of a shock for all of us. We just got news of this when we landed," the club's manager Alex Ferguson told a news conference at the team's hotel shortly after their arrival in Kuala Lumpur. "There was no other solution as we had to safeguard our players. So it's the correct decision." Witnesses said the bombings at the Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton, where the team were due to stay, were minutes apart and it appeared both had occurred inside the hotels, judging from the way windows were blown out.

Ferguson added that the timing of the bombings was just an unfortunate coincidence and something he had never experienced in over two decades of visiting the region with the club. "We are terribly disappointed because of all the work that goes into bringing Manchester United to Asia," added the Scot, who struggled to be heard at times due to the roars from an adjacent room hosting a meet-and-greet session with the players.

"We have a huge fan base in the region and I have been travelling to Asia for 21 years with this club and always admired the support we have in the Far East. "For the first time, we have had to cancel a match and that's very frustrating but maybe we can play the game another time." United will kick off their tour in Kuala Lumpur against a Malaysia XI on Saturday and are scheduled to face South Korea's FC Seoul on July 24 before taking on Chinese outfit Hangzhou Greentown two days later.

All 73,000 tickets for United's game in Indonesia sold out three weeks in advance, according to the club website (www.manutd.com), and it would have been the first time they had visited the south-east Asian country since 1975. Fellow Premier League clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur confirmed that they would continue as planned with their preseason trips to the region. "We have liaised with the British authorities in Thailand and Singapore and they have advised us that the security situation there is unchanged so we are going ahead as planned," a Liverpool media officer told Reuters.

"But obviously we will continue to monitor the situation." Liverpool play Thailand in Bangkok on July 22 before taking on Singapore four days later, while Tottenham are involved in a four-team tournament in Beijing along with Hull City and West Ham United. * Reuters