PARIS/LONDON: France’s friendly international against England at Wembley on Tuesday will be staged as scheduled despite the terror attacks in Paris which included three deaths in explosions outside the Stade de France.
President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and three days of national mourning after 129 people were killed and 352 injured – 99 seriously – in the six co-ordinated gun and bomb terrorist attacks across the city on Friday night.
Some 89 died at the Bataclan concert hall in the centre of the capital. Gunmen took hostages before detonating suicide devices when police stormed the building. Others died in attacks on restaurants and near the Stade de France, where France were playing Germany.
French football federation president Noel Le Graet said that, after all the essential discussions, Les Bleus would travel to London.
The FA had liaised with the two governments, their French counterparts and the Metropolitan Police. All parties agreed the game should go ahead. It is understood security will be heightened at Wembley with extra police drafted in and with enhanced checks on fans entering the stadium.
FA chairman Greg Dyke said: “Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with the city of Paris after these terrible atrocities. On behalf of the FA, I want to express our sorrow and send our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of those who have lost their lives.
“After consulting this morning with the French Football Federation and the British Government, we have decided together that the match between our two countries at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday should go ahead.
“We will use the opportunity to pay our respects to all affected and also to express our solidarity with the people of France.”
England manager Roy Hodgson, bringing his players back after Friday’s 2-0 defeat by Spain in Alicante, said: “The match will be a serious occasion but one that shows that the football world is united against these atrocities.
“I’m sure the England team and our fans will play their part and show solidarity with our French friends on Tuesday evening and provide support for both teams during this difficult time.”
Security levels have been increased in Belgium for the national team’s friendly match against Spain in Brussels after indications of a Belgian link to the terrorist gangs which carried off the attacks in Paris.
Blasts outside the Stade de France came in the 20th minute of France’s 2-0 win over Germany, and were audible inside the stadium. Subsequent speculation raised the possibility that the terrorists had planned to explode their devices inside the stadium during the game.
The German players slept in the Stade de France after the match before returning home directly with the French players insisting on staying with them in their own display of solidarity. It had been considered it too risky for the delegation to return to their hotel.
Player’s cousin killed
One of the victims of the attacks was a female cousin of Lassana Diarra who had been playing in the match for France.
All UEFA matches currently see teams wear black armbands (Euro 2016 play-offs, under-21, under-19 Futsal Cup etc) with a minute’s silence being held before kickoffs.
Sports events across France, including matches in the French cup, were cancelled or postponed.
In his national address after the attack President Hollande, who had been attending the football match, said: “This is a horror. Two decisions have been taken: a state of emergency is being decreed which means certain places will be closed, traffic may be banned and searches may also take place throughout the Paris region.
“The second decision I have taken is to close the borders. We must guarantee that no one can come in to commit any act. And at the same time those who may have committed crimes can be arrested if they try to leave the country.
“I have decided that we should mobilise all the forces we have to enable the neutralisation of the terrorists and to put in place security in all areas that could be concerned.
“I have also asked for military reinforcements. They are at this moment in the Greater Paris area to ensure no further attack takes place.”