At 5-a-side.com we typically like to keep things fairly light, but when we learned of the extraordinary set of circumstances surrounding two football tournaments that has led to an EDL march this coming bank holiday Monday (26th April) in Luton, we decided we needed to share the story.
Before we go on, we want to stress that this website has no affiliation to any organisation mentioned in this article, or elsewhere. We’ve chosen to bring you the facts on this matter, and no view of any person or party mentioned in this article (or that might appear in the comments section below) represents an opinion held by ourselves. We’d rather have shin-pads not politics, ‘tekkers’ not trouble, and Astroturf not arguments – make goals not war, man. Lastly, we categorically abhor any form of racism or violence.
The story begins with the tragic circumstances of two-year old Amelia-Mae Davies, who approximately one year ago was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer. Unable to receive treatment in the UK, her family nobly attempted to raise £250,000 for her to receive treatment in the USA.
Sadly, the brave Amelie-Mae never received this treatment, passing away on 5th July 2013, half-way through reaching her funding target.
Her brief but brave life touched so many people and the many articles published on her passing are a clear indication of the lives she touched in such a short space of time. It’s impossible to read the sort of tributes that have been paid to her whilst keeping a dry eye.
That her name should have to be connected in any way with the events that have later unfolded is, quite frankly, a disgrace and something that all parties will have deep regret about. What has unfolded is no tribute at all to the life of such a precious child – everyone, no matter your views, should surely agree on that.
The English Defense League, referred to as the “EDL” (Wikipedia link for those who want to read further on them), chose to raise funds for Amelie-Mae some time ago.
Before her passing, the EDL had raised £5,798.87 for cancer charity NCCA UK to help Amelie-Mae, funds which were reportedly rejected by the charity who chose not to accept the fees on the grounds of remaining politically neutral.
After Amelie-Mae passed away, the EDL continued to attempt fundraising efforts, hatching the idea to hold a 5-a-side tournament in Luton (the EDL’s founding location and base). They had planned to hold this tournament on the August Bank holiday weekend, on Sunday 25th August 2013.
Apparently due to complaints, on 29th July the organisers of this tournament received a message from the 5-a-side centre’s management stating that they have had to cancel the tournament “due to complaints from members of the Luton community”. In a carefully worded e-mail the centre made clear that they considered their business to be at risk and felt that they were unable to host the event. Full text below:
The rejection appears to have led to much resentment by the EDL’s leader, Tommy Robinson, among others within the organisation. It must be said, however, that this resentment has not been directed at the 5-a-side centre, but rather at those who chose to complain to them about the tournament.
Goals 4 Gaza
A couple of days after the Amelia-Mae tournament had been cancelled, the EDL’s outrage seems to have grown at the discovery that the same 5-a-side centre is hosting another 5-a-side tournament on Monday 26th August, the very day after they had planned their own tournament.
Goals 4 Gaza is another charity tournament; this one supporting the Ummah Welfare Trust‘s Palestine Appeal.
It seems that the EDL were already on a collision course with somebody over the perceived injustice at the cancellation of their tournament, but this discovery appears to have sealed the decision, with the EDL’s leader declaring it to be ‘unfair treatment’ and also indicating that the charity benefiting from the Goals 4 Gaza tournament may support Palestinian fighters and therefore terrorism (again, remember, the EDL leader’s views not ours – we’re just reporting this stuff).
Marching in Luton
Now, whether the idea for the Goals 4 Gaza tournament came before or after the Amelia-Mae tournament, we cannot tell for sure – although we note that the twitter account of Goals 4 Gaza did only open on 8th August – after the EDL received their rejection on the 29th July. On the other hand, the 5-a-side centre has apparently held tournaments for the same charity three years in a row. Whatever the circumstances, the EDL have decided to coincide a march- yes, that’s right a march– with the tournament in Luton on 26th August.
As at the time of writing there are no suggestions to say that the march is going to be cancelled – it seems to be have been discussed with the police and to be taking place (see Luton Today article: “Residents’ fears over EDL’s plans to march at charity event“).
We wish EVERYONE in the Luton area well this bank holiday Monday and hope that this passes peacefully and without incident. And then after that can we all just get back to just enjoying some 5-a-side, please?
One Final Word…
So there it is, the story of how a row over two football tournaments has caused an EDL Protest in Luton this bank holiday Monday. Who would have thought that the game we all love would be tangled up in such a strange turn of events? However, let’s not lose sight of what began all of this, the story of Amelie-Mae.
The saddest thing of this whole sorry affair is that her name has been linked with all of this squabbling.
5-a-side.com was touched by the story of Amelia-Mae and the author of this post has made a donation to NCCA UK, who continue to do incredible work to battle Neuroblastoma in the UK. Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer; the most common cancer diagnosed in the first year of life, and responsible for an appalling 15% of cancer deaths in children. If you have been touched by Amelia-Mae’s story and wish to do something constructive to help, you may donate on their website, or also see the Amelia-Mae Davies Neuroblastoma Foundation who are also helping raise funds and awareness in memory of their daughter.
Update – 26th August 2013
Both the march and the football went peacefully. Goals 4 Gaza raised £7,975.50 according to their JustGiving page.