WEB DESK: English football fans awoke on Tuesday to find the words to the French national anthem plastered across their newspapers ahead of the countries’ friendly at Wembley, days after the Paris attacks.
The big screens at the famous London stadium will display the words of ‘La Marseillaise’, which were also printed on the back of The Sun and Daily Mirror tabloids — normally bastions of footballing patriotism.
The Sun instructed readers to “sing for France”.
France were playing Germany in a friendly at Paris’s Stade de France last Friday when it was targeted by suicide bombers, leaving four people dead including three attackers.
In total, attacks across the city claimed 129 lives, including that of Asta Diakite, the cousin of France midfielder Lassana Diarra.
The sister of forward Antoine Griezmann escaped unhurt from the assault on the Bataclan concert hall.
The two football associations decided the game should go ahead, and British police and armed forces will implement an unprecedented operation that will see armed officers roaming the stadium.
Army units from the elite Special Air Service (SAS) will also be among the crowd and 5,000 troops will be on standby, according to The Sun.
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”.
The stadium’s bars will shut five minutes before kick-off to encourage fans to observe tributes that will include a minute’s silence, the laying of flowers by team captains Wayne Rooney and Hugo Lloris and the singing of ‘La Marseillaise’.
England manager Roy Hodgson has encouraged the expected 80,000 crowd to sing the anthem, admitting: “I’ve never been in a football game like this before.”
Historian Dan Snow on Tuesday wrote that despite historical differences: “We have always been France’s twin.”
“We have copied and plagiarised the other’s ideas. We have fought to the last man for the other’s freedoms, as only twins can,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
“The sinews are deeper than any politician can articulate. The bond is strong enough to withstand armies of nihilist thugs.”
England’s Football Association has confirmed that the giant arch over Wembley will continue to be lit in the red, white and blue of the French Tricolor leading up to the match.
France’s motto — ‘Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite’ — will be shown on screens outside the ground.