Wembley honours Paris victims with French anthem

Posted By: PTI

London, Nov 18: A moving rendition of the French national anthem reverberated around London's Wembley Stadium on Tuesday as fans of England and France paid tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks.

In a crowd of 71,223 that included British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William, many stood to sing 'La Marseillaise' four days on from the attacks, which left 129 people dead and over 350 injured.

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Wembley honours Paris victims

England won the match 2-0 courtesy of goals from Dele Alli and captain Wayne Rooney, but the outcome of the contest was a mere anecdote on a night heavy with poignancy. France midfielder Lassana Diarra, who lost a cousin in the attacks, and team-mate Antoine Griezmann, whose sister escaped the massacre at the Bataclan concert hall, both came on in the second half.

Diarra, a former player with English sides Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth, was granted a warm round of applause as he came on. There was a heavy police presence outside the ground, while two armed counter-terror police officers were seen patrolling beside the pitch prior to kick-off.

The friendly between Germany and the Netherlands scheduled to take place in Hanover yesterday had earlier been cancelled, with German police citing a "serious" bomb threat, while Belgium's game with Spain was also called off.

Last Friday's attacks in Paris had started with three suicide bombers blowing themselves up outside the Stade de France while France played Germany in a friendly.

But supporters arriving at Wembley were relaxed, with one Malaysian fan telling AFP: "I have no fears at all. I believe that the British will provide the security necessary."

Breaking with convention, the Marseillaise was played after 'God Save the Queen' in order to create a stand-alone moment of solidarity, with the words to the anthem displayed on the stadium's big screens. Many England fans had brought French flags to the stadium.

One banner in the crowd, picking up a social media hashtag, read: "Pray for Paris." Prior to the anthems, and a solemnly observed minute's silence, figures including Prince William, France coach Didier Deschamps, England manager Roy Hodgson, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet and his English counterpart Greg Dyke laid floral tributes beside the pitch.


Story first published: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 9:55 [IST]
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