Serie B games off to honour quake victims

MILAN - Serie B matches due to be played on Friday have been postponed as a mark of respect to the victims of the earthquake in Italy's Abruzzo region, the league announced. A mass state funeral and a national day of mourning are expected to be held on Friday. The death toll in Italy's worst quake in three decades has climbed to 267. A league spokeswoman said on Wednesday the second division games had been put back but that the weekend's Serie A programme remained unchanged. Initially the league said the Serie B games would be rearranged for next Tuesday but a later statement said they would take place on April 21. Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi, whose AS Roma side take on Lazio in Saturday's city derby, would have preferred the top-flight games to be postponed as well. "Stopping the games could have been the right thing to do. It would have been a gesture," he told reporters. Serie A matches this weekend will start with a minute's silence and players will wear black armbands. Several clubs have said they will donate proceeds from the matches to the relief effort and Italy's soccer federation said on Wednesday it was hoping to organise a friendly for the national team in Abruzzo. Takings from the Italy match will also go to help the affected region. A federation statement said June 6 would be the ideal date for the game if it could be organised in time. Opponents have yet to be chosen.