Archive for Sunday, September 16, 2001

International sports fans, athletes honor victims

September 16, 2001

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Michael Schumacher's race car had a black nose, German soccer fans waved American flags and Sydney's Olympic Park was silent Saturday as athletes and fans across the world honored the victims of the terrorist attacks in the United States.

"We will do our best for our fans, although it's certainly difficult to concentrate on racing in this moment," said Schumacher, preparing for today's Italian Grand Prix.

The mood was particularly grim at the CART auto race in Germany, where Italian driver Alex Zanardi lost both legs in an accident. The event was renamed the American Memorial 500 following the attacks.

"It's been a difficult week all week because of the events that have happened and what happened there at the end," said winner Kelly Brack of Sweden.

CART was one of the few major U.S.-based sports competing this weekend. The race was the series' first event in Europe.

College football stadiums across the United States were dark as all major schools postponed or canceled games.

Schumacher, the Formula One champion, rode in a Ferrari without advertising for the second straight day as the usually grand celebration at Monza turned sober and respectful.

Few flags waved and almost no trumpets played during Saturday's qualifying session for today's race. Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo urged fans among the world's noisiest to restrain themselves out of respect for the victims.

There will be a minute of silence before the race and organizers said drivers of the 22 teams will stand in front of the crowd in the finish line area.

A minute's silence was observed at Olympic Park before the cauldron was relighted in tribute to the opening ceremony a year ago in Sydney.

"The Olympic spirit kindled here just a year ago was never more needed than now," New South Wales state Premier Bob Carr said. "On this anniversary of universal hospitality and international goodwill, we need to be reminded how little is gained by murder and grief and the fury of endless revenge."

In Bangkok, a moment of silence was observed before Saudi Arabia beat Thailand 3-1 in a World Cup qualifying game.

German soccer fans waved American flags and held banners saying "You'll never walk alone." At games in Germany and Italy, players held hands at midfield during a moment of silence before kickoff.

The advertising signs at Munich Stadium were draped in sheets that read, "Give peace a chance." A bomb scare, however, kept many fans waiting outside the gates until an hour before the game.

"In the second half the mood lifted some," Bayern Munich vice president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. "Soccer succeeded in diverting people a little bit from the current events."

FC Kaiserslautern coach Andreas Brehme had trouble enjoying his team's 2-0 victory over FC Nuremberg.

"After the terrible events of the last few days, I don't have any desire to speak about the match," he said.

"I couldn't even celebrate or enjoy our goals today."

In the game between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund, fans waved U.S. flags. A banner read, "Soccer is secondary even this match." Before the game, officials from the two teams held a prayer service at the chapel inside Schalke's stadium.

The starts of today's Italian Serie A games have been pushed back 15 minutes to honor the victims.

In England, fans and players stood for a minute's silence and a wreath was placed on an American flag at midfield before Liverpool's game against Everton.

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