England And France Prepare For Wembley Demonstration Of Liberté, égalité, fraternité
In an act of collective solidarity and defiance, all 23 players in the French squad to face England in a prestige friendly on Tuesday have agreed to travel.
The squad had the option of withdrawing following Friday’s terrorist atrocity but all of them turned the offer down, including midfielder Lassana Diarra whose cousin Asta Diakite, was one of those killed, and striker Antoine Griezmann whose sister escaped from the Bataclan theatre where 89 people were gunned down.
Both players were involved in France’s friendly with Germany at the Stade de France, which was also targeted by three suicide bombers who were unable to get into the ground but blew themselves up when approached by security.
The Wembley Arch is due to be lit up in the red, white and blue colours of the French flag during Tuesday’s game (as it was as news of the attacks broke) while screens outside the ground will display the French motto ‘Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite’ and before kick-off the words of the French national anthem, the Marseillaise, will be shown with English fans being encouraged to sing it alongside their French counterparts.
The fixture was given the go-ahead after liaison between the two FAs in question, both governments and London’s police authorities. The French are due to hold a news conference at Wembley later today after their arrival.
England manager Roy Hodgson welcomed the decision while the English FA is urging fans to get to Wembley early because of increased security checks. “The match will be a serious occasion but one that shows that the football world is united against these atrocities,” said Hodgson.
Meanwhile it emerged that the German players slept in the Stade de France before returning home in the early hours of Saturday morning. Sports events across France, including matches in the French cup, were cancelled or postponed over the weekend.