Munich victims set for Wembley tribute
© AFP

A minute's silence will be held before England's friendly international against Switzerland at Wembley next week on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster, the Football Association has announced. Eight Manchester United players were among 23 people killed on 6 February 1958 when a plane crashed on take-off from Munich airport.

England's match against Switzerland comes 50 years to the day since the disaster, and the FA has announced there wil be a minute's silence before kick-off with England players wearing black armbands as a mark of respect. FA spokesman Adrian Bevington was confident fans from both countries would observe the minute's silence.

"We will be having a minute's silence in respect of Munich at the England v Switzerland game," he said. "We believe very strongly that this should be and will be respected and that there's a feeling across the whole country that a minute's silence is the best and most appropriate way to remember everybody who lost their lives in the tragedy."

The tragedy killed several players in a youthful squad nicknamed the Busby Babes because of the number of talented young players who were emerging under the club's then manager Matt Busby. Manchester United and England great Sir Bobby Charlton, himself then a rising star, was among the survivors.

Bevington added: "The players will be wearing black armbands and there will be film on both giant screens of the Busby Babes. There will also be a tribute to the Busby Babes in the match programme.

"This was a tragedy for Manchester United in 1958 but we should also recognise there were England players who were lost while representing English football in European competition.

Manchester United plan to mark the anniversary with a minute's silence before next month's derby match against Manchester City at Old Trafford. City's official supporters club have asked for the silence to be replaced with a minute's applause because of fears that a minority of visiting fans may seek to disrupt the commemoration.

City have already written to the 3,000 supporters who will have tickets for the match on 10 February, four days after the anniversary, urging them to uphold the good name of the club and reminding them that a former City player was among the victims of the disaster. Frank Swift, a goalkeeper for both City and England, was working as a reporter for the News of the World when he died in the crash.