England fans urged to sing French anthem in friendly after Paris attacks

England football supporters have been encouraged to sing the French national anthem before next week’s friendly match in London after officials announced the match would go ahead despite Friday’s deadly terror attacks in Paris.

Tuesday’s international at London’s Wembley Stadium will take place just days after more than 120 people were killed in a series of incidents across the French capital.

Since then a Twitter campaign has begun encouraging England fans to join with French travelling supporters in singing La Marseillaise, France’s national anthem when, as is traditional, the anthems of both countries are played before kick-off in a football international.

Mark Pougatch, a football presenter with Britain’s ITV television channel, who will be broadcasting the match, tweeted on Saturday: “If you have a ticket for Wembley on Tuesday then it’s time to learn La Marseillaise. Time to show what fraternité is about.”

Pougatch’s call, and similar tweets from England supporters, came after officials in charge of Italy’s second division football league Serie B announced they planned to play La Marseillaise before kick-off in their matches on Saturday.

The anthem was also played before the European Champions Cup rugby match involving English side Saracens and French giants Toulouse in north London on Saturday.

If both sets of football fans join in singing La Marseillaise on Tuesday it will be in marked contrast to the booing of the opposition national anthem, which has become a familiar sound during pre-match ceremonies at Wembley internationals.

Meanwhile there have been thousands of online postings of the scene from the Oscar-winning movie ‘Casablanca’, set at the time of the Second World War, when customers in a cafe in the Moroccan city of the film’s title sing La Marseillaise as a gesture of defiance against Nazi occupation.

Saturday also saw the website of Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper printed in full the lyrics of the anthem, originally a call to arms in the French Revolution of the late 18th Century, in both French and English.

There were concerns that, following the attacks, Tuesday’s match between England and Euro 2016 hosts France might be postponed.

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

FA chairman Greg Dyke, confirming the game would go ahead as scheduled, said: “We will use the opportunity to pay our respects to all affected and also to express our solidarity with the people of France.”


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