England vs France friendly to go ahead despite Paris attacks

  • Agencies, Paris
  • Updated: Nov 16, 2015 14:07 IST
NFL venues in the US too tightened security as a result of the Paris attacks. (AP Photo)

From Sao Paulo to Shanghai, London to Prague, sport defiantly united in its condemnation of the Paris attacks on Saturday as teams and fans resorted to extraordinary measures in the aftermath of the killings.

The world champion German football team, which had been playing France at Paris’s Stade de France when three suicide bombers struck outside the arena on Friday, took the unusual step of spending the night inside the dressing rooms before flying home on Saturday morning.

“The players were very worried, the information was not very clear and we didn’t want to take any risk on the road, so we decided not to drive through Paris.... (which was) not 100 per cent secured and so we stayed in the dressing room,” said Germany manager Oliver Bierhoff.

They weren’t alone. France players, in what is described by Germany’s acting FA president, Reinhard Rauball, as an “outstanding gesture of camaraderie”, spent the night at the stadium in a show of solidarity with their opponents.

Diarra to play

French midfielder Lassana Diarra, who played in the game, revealed that his cousin had died in the attacks.

“As you may have read, I was affected personally by the attacks. My cousin, Asta Diakite, was among the victims of one of the shootings, along with hundreds of other innocent French people,” the 30-year-old Diarra wrote on Twitter. “She was like a big sister to me, a guide and support.”

Diarra, however, will travel with the full squad of France to London to play England in a friendly on Tuesday.

“After talks with the English FA who assured us there was no particular risk in holding the match, we decided to go ahead,” a France federation spokesman told AFP on Saturday.

Tour stays alert

Elsewhere in London, no stranger to deadly militant attacks, security for this week’s ATP World Tour Finals was bolstered as the world’s top eight tennis players prepared to play at the O2 arena on the banks of the Thames.

Superstars Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are all slated to play at the 20,000-capacity stadium.

In Prague, meanwhile, tennis star Maria Sharapova, the world’s highest earning sportswoman, expressed her sadness at the events in Paris where she was French Open champion in 2012 and 2014.

“I fell asleep last night so I wasn’t aware of anything until this morning. (It’s) a big shock. It’s one of my favourite cities in the world and it’s obviously very tough to see the news and the pictures,” said Sharapova.

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