Cameron joins fans for French an­them ren­di­tion

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron will join foot­ball fans singing the French na­tional an­them as they pay trib­ute to the vic­tims of the Paris at­tacks prior to Eng­land-France friendly. The words to ‘La Mar­seil­laise’ will be shown on the big screens in­side Lon­don’s Wem­b­ley Sta­dium as supporters unite in sol­i­dar­ity af­ter Fri­day’s at­tacks, which left 129 peo­ple dead and over 350 in­jured. Cameron had not been sched­uled to at­tend the game, but a source said that he had changed his mind in light of the hor­ror that struck the French cap­i­tal while France played a friendly game against Ger­many. Asked if the Bri­tish leader would join Eng­land fans in singing the an­them, his spokesman said: “The prime min­is­ter will take part in any trib­utes.” France’s play­ers, in­clud­ing Las­sana Diarra, who lost a cousin in the at­tacks, were es­corted by armed po­lice as they took a walk around Wem­b­ley be­neath grey skies on the af­ter­noon of the game. The play­ers had trained in­side the sta­dium on Mon­day evening, when armed po­lice were again in at­ten­dance.

English fans awoke to find the words to ‘La Mar­seil­laise’ plas­tered across their news­pa­pers, with tabloids The Sun and The Daily Mir­ror-nor­mally bas­tions of foot­balling pa­tri­o­tism-print­ing them on their back pages. The Sun in­structed read­ers to “sing for France”, while in­side, France’s record goal-scorer Thierry Henry said: “Tonight at Wem­b­ley, the whole world will be French.”

Sui­cide bombers tar­geted Paris’s Stade de France dur­ing France’s 2-0 vic­tory over Ger­many on Fri­day, leav­ing four peo­ple dead in­clud­ing three at­tack­ers. Diarra’s cousin, Asta Di­akite, died in a shoot­ing on Paris’s rue Bichat, while the sis­ter of Diarra’s France team­mate An­toine Griez­mann es­caped un­hurt from the as­sault on the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall. France and Eng­land’s foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tions de­cided that Tues­day’s game should go ahead, prompt­ing an un­prece­dented se­cu­rity op­er­a­tion in­volv­ing armed po­lice pa­trols and “ex­ten­sive searches”.

Fans have been en­cour­aged to ar­rive early and not to bring bags with them. There will be no tick­ets on sale at the sta­dium. Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Prince Wil­liam, who ini­tially had no plans to go to the game, will now at­tend to show “sol­i­dar­ity to the peo­ple of France”.

Tri­col­ore mo­saic

FIFA pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Prince Ali bin al Hus­sein of Jor­dan also re­vealed that he will at­tend. “I am con­tin­u­ing with my plans to at­tend the match, which were set some weeks ago, and to show sol­i­dar­ity with the peo­ple of France and the vic­tims of terror every­where,” he said in a state­ment.

Wem­b­ley’s bars will shut five min­utes be­fore kick-off to en­cour­age fans to ob­serve trib­utes in­clud­ing a minute’s si­lence, the lay­ing of flow­ers by team cap­tains Wayne Rooney and Hugo Lloris and the singing of ‘La Mar­seil­laise’. Break­ing with con­ven­tion, the French an­them will be played af­ter ‘God Save the Queen’ in or­der to cre­ate a stand-alone mo­ment of sol­i­dar­ity. Eng­land’s fans sit­ting in the ground’s east stand will be pro­vided with ma­te­ri­als to form a mo­saic of the Tri­col­ore dur­ing the French an­them. Play­ers from both teams will wear black arm­bands. The minute’s si­lence be­fore Ire­land’s Euro 2016 play-off win over Bos­nia-Herze­gov­ina in Dublin on Mon­day was marred by shouts from some vis­it­ing fans, but Eng­land man­ager Roy Hodg­son does not ex­pect a re­peat at Wem­b­ley. “We hope the cer­e­monies will be re­spected,” he said. “If there’s one thing that I truly wish for, it is that we show the re­spect I’d ex­pect ev­ery sin­gle English­man to show.”

The FA has con­firmed that the gi­ant arch over Wem­b­ley will con­tinue to be lit in the red, white and blue of the French Tri­col­ore lead­ing up to the match. France’s motto’Lib­erte, Egalite, Fra­ter­nite’-is be­ing shown on screens out­side the ground.

An on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing for the pro­ceeds from the game to be do­nated to the char­ity Medecins Sans Fron­tieres (Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders) had gar­nered more than 145,000 sig­na­tures by to­day. — AFP

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