LONDON (AP) – England called off Wednesday's soccer match against the Netherlands at Wembley Stadium amid the wave of rioting and looting across London.
The Football Association made the decision Tuesday morning after talks with the British government and the Metropolitan Police, who struggled to contain a third night of unrest in the British capital.
''It is with regret that tomorrow's international fixture with Holland at Wembley has been called off,'' the Football Association said in a brief statement on Tuesday.
About 70,000 tickets had already been sold for the match in the north London, which was abandoned before the Dutch team left home.
''We will remain in the Netherlands,'' Dutch football association spokeswoman Monique Kessel said. ''It's a shame.''
The move came as British authorities had difficulty curtailing the spiraling violence across the city.
''The disturbances in London are such that all available police capacity is being reserved for that,'' the Dutch football association added in a statement. ''Given that a large event such as an international match at Wembley requires policing, it has been decided not to let it be played.''
In London, groups of young people rampaged for a third straight night, setting buildings, vehicles and garbage dumps alight, looting stores and pelting police officers with bottles and fireworks.
In the Peckham district of south London, where England defender Rio Ferdinand grew up, a building was set ablaze along with a bus - which was not carrying passengers. Onlookers described the scene as resembling a conflict zone.
Ferdinand, who watched the violence unfold on television at the England team hotel, said on Twitter that it was a ''good call'' to cancel the match.
''Who wants to see a game of football when our country is in turmoil,'' Ferdinand wrote.
Ferdinand also described the escalating violence as ''madness'' and questioned whether soldiers should be put on the streets of the British capital.
England teammate Wayne Rooney appealed for an end to the violence.
''These riots are nuts why would people do this to there (sic) own country. Own city,'' the striker wrote on Twitter. ''This is embarrassing for our country. Stop please.''
Netherlands forward Rafael van der Vaart also weighed in on Twitter.
''Too bad the game against England has been canceled...was looking forward to it, Wembley. Terrible for London what's happening there now,'' Van der Vaart wrote.
Four League Cup matches scheduled for Tuesday had already been called off. West Ham, which was due to host Aldershot, said police told the east London club that ''all major public events in London were to be rearranged.''
In south London, Charlton's match against Reading, and Crystal Palace's fixture against Crawley were also postponed.
The clashes with police also spread beyond London for the first time Monday night, leading to Bristol City's League Cup match against Swindon being called off.
Violence first broke out late Saturday in the low-income district of Tottenham in north London, where outraged protesters demonstrated against the fatal police shooting of a man who was gunned down in disputed circumstances on Thursday.
Tottenham's football club is working to make sure that its Premier League opener against Everton on Saturday can go on despite damage to a ticket office at White Hart Lane.
Follow Rob Harris at www.twitter.com/RobHarrisUK