England football great Geoff Hurst said on Monday that a member of the British royal family should have attended the Women’s World Cup final.
Spain beat European champions England 1-0 in Sunday’s showpiece match in Sydney.
But while Spain’s Queen Letizia and her daughter Sofia watched the match at Stadium Australia, before celebrating on the field with their victorious team, none of their UK counterparts were present.
That is despite King Charles III being head of state of both Britain and Australia, while his elder son Prince William, the heir to the throne, is the president of England’s governing Football Association.
Hurst was the hat-trick hero of the England’s men’s team’s 1966 World Cup final win over the then West Germany at Wembley — where England captain Bobby Moore was presented with the Jules Rimet trophy by Queen Elizabeth II after a 4-2 triumph.
Hurst was clear a member of the British royal family “should definitely” have attended the women’s final.
Asked if he thought their absence had been a mistake, he told BBC Radio on Monday: “Yes, I do. I think if the royals attend the men’s game, they should definitely.”
The 81-year-old Hurst added: “It’s an English team, a World Cup tournament, a member of the royal family should definitely have gone.
“No argument at all about that.”
Meanwhile, the British government defended the decision of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak not to attend the final.
Claire Coutinho, a junior education minister, insisted Sunak would have stayed at home even if the England men’s team had been involved in a final as he is “so busy”.
But when asked if the government was only paying lip service to the women’s game, junior education minister Claire Coutinho told Sky News: “No, I don’t think so. So the Foreign Secretary (James Cleverly) was there and the DCMS (Department of Culture, Media and Sport) Secretary (Lucy Frazer) was also there.
“This Government was represented. And I know that the Prime Minister would have loved to have been there but he’s also got a huge amount of work to do.
“And I think the travel time is probably difficult. But I know how proud he is of the Lionesses. We all are. It’s an amazing achievement to get to a World Cup final. It’s absolutely extraordinary.”
Pressed on whether Sunak would have got on a plane if it was the men’s World Cup final, Coutinho replied: “I don’t think he would have because his schedule is so busy.”
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