French league games going ahead because 'life must go on'
Nov. 18, 2015
PARIS (AP) — Soccer matches around the country will go ahead in France this weekend in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris to show that "life must go on," France's secretary of sport said.
In an interview Wednesday with sports daily L'Equipe, Thierry Braillard said calling games off would be "exactly what these barbarians want," referring to the gunmen and suicide bombers who attacked Paris last Friday, leaving 129 dead and 350 injured.
Braillard said French soccer league president Frederic Thiriez is "totally" in agreement with the decision.
Friday's rampage, including explosions at the Stade de France while the French national team was playing Germany, led to sporting events in Paris and other cities being canceled over the weekend.
There was no top-level league soccer scheduled because of the international break so the French league will resume Friday evening when Lyon travels to Nice.
Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain will play Saturday, but will be away from home at Lorient, while the weekend's last game will be Saint-Etienne against Marseille on Sunday.
"We felt that life must go on, sporting competitions have to start again. Suspending them would be to do exactly what these barbarians want, which is to upset the balance of our lives," Braillard told L'Equipe. "I'm convinced that everything will take place calmly. The Interior Minister and organizers will take the right measures."
With police forces stretched across France, resources for policing games are much more limited and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said no away fans can travel.
Heightened security measures at stadiums will include stricter bag inspections at entrances, where some metal detectors will be used. Fans are advised to arrive as early as possible.
There is a sorrowful mood enveloping French soccer.
On Tuesday night at Wembley Stadium in London, English fans joined in with their French counterparts to sing France's national anthem — "La Marseillaise" — and players from both sides stood in a ring of solidarity.
"Thank You," was the simple headline on the front page of sports daily L'Equipe, written in English in recognition of the support.
"I had tears in my eyes. I'm French, and what touches the French people touches me, too," France defender Bacary Sagna said. "A lot of people still had these images from Friday in their minds. But we wanted to fight in the name of the French people."
France midfielder Lassana Diarra's cousin was one among those killed on Friday.