Message from football: Terrorism can’t win

Date published: Monday 16th November 2015 4:20

Wembley France

England’s friendly against France has “massive global significance” and is a chance to show “terrorism can’t win” following Friday’s attacks in Paris, Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn has said.

Roy Hodgson’s England host Les Bleus on Tuesday four days after 129 people were killed and hundreds more injured in a series of attacks in the French capital.

Various tributes are planned for the match in memory of the victims of the attack, including the singing of French national anthem La Marseillaise, and Glenn says the eyes of the world will be on Wembley.

He told a press conference: “This is going to have massive global significance – the first major event since Friday. It is a chance to demonstrate terrorism can’t win.

“We can’t afford to let this act of terror cow us.”

Glenn also urged supporters to turn up early for the friendly, partly because of the tributes planned just prior to the 8pm kick-off but also because of the security checks that will be in place.

Glenn said there will be an increased “physical police presence” for the match.

Initially Hodgson was viewing the friendly as an important part of his side’s build-up to Euro 2016, but the England coach admits the emphasis is now on showing solidarity with France rather than what takes place on the pitch.

He said: “All we can do really is make certain we play the best game possible, but unfortunately whichever way we think about it we can’t deny there’s something hanging over this game which is far far greater than a football match and a football result.

“We’ll do our best on the football field and I’m sure these young players will get great experience and they won’t let the country down, but I believe tomorrow night is going to be a little bit more around us showing solidarity and people writing about this football match being played and the reasons for this match being played, rather than necessarily what actually happens on the field.”

The 68-year-old also admits he is going into the unknown when it comes to how the match itself might play out.

He added: “I really can’t imagine how this game’s going to go and what sort of football is going to be played quite simply because I’ve never been in this situation before. I’ve never played a game four days after a tragedy of this immense proportion, but the game is to go ahead and we will prepare and try to play the best game we can play.

“But I can’t deny that there are other issues here which are greater than the game of football.”

Hodgson said that none of the England players had told him they did not want to play the friendly as a result of Friday’s attacks.

He also said his side would have had no problem if France had wanted to call the game off.

“Our players, like everyone in the world, were devastated by the news,” the England coach said.

“We would have been perfectly content had the decision been taken that, because of the events, the game would have been called off, we’d have accepted that without any discussion or any comment.

“But we were told the game was to go ahead and we’ve tried to do our best to prepare accordingly, and I don’t think there’s anybody in particular who would have a reason to say ‘I don’t want to play the game’.

“But a lot of those French players are involved in English football so there’s an enormous empathy between them, but not enough for any of our players to come to myself or Martin to say ‘because of what’s happened we don’t want to play the game’.”

 

England captain Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, feels football has the power to unite in the wake of the “sickening” attacks in Paris, three of which took place near the Stade de France where Les Bleus were playing Germany in a friendly.

The Manchester United forward, whose club-mates Anthony Martial and Morgan Schneiderlin played for France on Friday along with former colleagues Patrice Evra and Paul Pogba, said: “I think first of all, on behalf of the players, we would like to give our condolences.

“It’s an incredibly sad time. Having team-mates in my own club, I spoke to them after it happened and it’s a hard time for everyone. We have to be respectful.

“Then there is a football match – it will be tough for the French players, but it is a time for them to make their country proud and they will do everything they can to make their country proud.”

He added at Monday’s press conference: “I think first of all when I saw the images, its sickening. It’s a sad time.

“In terms of going on the pitch, we can only go on the understanding that all the security checks have been done unless we are told otherwise. That’s the way as a player we have to look at it and go out and play.

“You can never know what is going to happen and we hope there will not be a repeat of what happened on Friday night.

“I think football globally does a lot for the world, it shows everyone as a unit. Football has the power to do that and I think the world of football needs to stay strong together. I’m sure football will help bring everyone together.”

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