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France stars Zidane and Vieira out of charity match after Paris attacks

AFP , Saturday 14 Nov 2015
Zinedine Zidane
Former Real Madrid player Zinedine Zidane (Photo: Reuters)
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Former France football stars Zinedine Zidane and Patrick Vieira withdrew 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-winners Zidane and Vieira, 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 scheduled 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 Vieira should have been.

Match organisers explained the pair's absence by issuing a statement which said: "In light of the tragic events in Paris last night some of the players who were set to take part in today's Match for Children at Old Trafford unfortunately were not longer able to participate. Our thoughts go out to the victims and families."

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.

Earlier, a post on Manchester United's official Twitter feed said players would observe a minute's silence before kick-off and wear black armbands in respect of those killed in Paris.

A separate United statement, confirming the match would go ahead as scheduled, 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 saw Beckham link up with former United manager Alex Ferguson, who was coaching the Great Britain and Ireland side.

Another of Beckham's former managers, Carlo Ancelotti, was also involved as the Italian coached the Rest of the World team.

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