Superstar athletes, teams mourn Manchester victims

By Alex Butler  |  Updated May 23, 2017 at 11:58 AM
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May 23 (UPI) -- Athletes from around the world took to social media to pay respect to the 22 victims and their families from Monday's Manchester Arena bombing.

Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and several other soccer stars with ties to Manchester United expressed grief on social media following the attack, which occurred after an Ariana Grande concert. Manchester United and Manchester City also issued statements.

"Heartbreaking news from Manchester," Beckham wrote on social media. "As a father & a human what has happened truly saddens me. My thoughts are with all of those that have been affected by this tragedy..."

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, Formula One star Lewis Hamilton, Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan and Olympic track star Usain Bolt also offered their condolences. Golfer Rory McIlroy tweeted the attack "makes me so angry and sad at the same time."

The Islamic State took responsibility for the bombing on Tuesday. An eight-year-old girl and an 18-year-old student have been confirmed in the deaths.

"So sad to hear the news from Manchester," Ronaldo wrote on social media Tuesday. "My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims. #PrayForManchester."

UEFA confirmed Tuesday that the Europa League final between Manchester United and Ajax in Stockholm will go on as planned Wednesday. United held a moment of silence on Tuesday during its training session.

"UEFA is shocked by last night's attack in Manchester," the organization said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those affected."

"There is currently no specific intelligence which might suggest that any of the UEFA Europa League final activities in Stockholm may be the target of attacks."

"UEFA has been closely working with local authorities and the Swedish FA for many months and the terrorist risk had been taken into account since the very beginning of the project. Furthermore, a number of additional security measures were implemented following the attacks in Stockholm last April."

"Due to the tight security arrangements, UEFA urges fans to arrive at the stadium as early as possible, as detailed checks will be made at the entrances, resulting in potential delays in accessing the stadium."

Manchester Arena is located about four miles from United's home at Old Trafford. The arena is about 2.3 miles from Manchester City's home pitch, Etihad Stadium.

The arena has concerts planned in the coming months including Kiss, Kings of Leon, Celine Dion, Blink-182, Radiohead, John Legend and more.

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