Paris attacks: France-England soccer match takes on new tone
National teams to play in London 4 days after mass murder
The Wembley Arch will be illuminated in the red, white and blue of the French flag. The French motto, "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" will be projected onto the front of the stadium. The words of La Marseillaise, France's national anthem, will be shown on giant screens so that England fans can sing along with their French counterparts.
A match between the England and France soccer teams on Tuesday — a game that what supposed to serve as a valuable warm-up ahead of next year's European Championship — has been transformed into a poignant act of defiance, solidarity and sporting unity.
Three days after being caught up in the synchronized attacks in Paris that killed 129 people, France's players have traveled to London for the game at England's national stadium, where there will be a beefed-up presence of armed security and increased checks outside the ground.
"The match tomorrow is going to have massive global significance," said Martin Glenn, chief executive of England's Football Association, on Monday. "It's the first big event to happen since the tragedy of last Friday ... the eyes of the world will be on Wembley."
For the French Football Federation and its players, the show must go on.
"France is standing," FFF president Noel Le Graet said. "Football also."
The English FA left the decision over whether the game should go ahead entirely in the hands of French soccer officials. England manager Roy Hodgson said the symbolism of the game taking place was more important than the result.
"We can't deny the seriousness of the occasion ... unfortunately that will be lingering over everyone, whether we like it or not," Hodgson said.
"I've never [been involved in] a game four days after a tragedy of this immense proportion. I can't deny there are other issues at stake that are greater than the game of football."
On Friday, suicide bombers attacked the Stade de France in Paris, where France was playing Germany in an international friendly. The teams spent the night in the stadium as violence struck elsewhere in the French capital, during which time France midfielder Lassana Diarra's cousin was killed and France forward Antoine Griezmann's sister escaped from a concert hall where 89 people died.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Diarra and Griezmann were among the 23-man squad that flew to London on Monday morning and was set to train at a facility belonging to Premier League club Tottenham. The French team planned to be at Wembley Stadium later to train and hold a news conference.
France coach Didier Deschamps offered players the chance to withdraw from the game, but none have.
Beating England at Wembley would mark an impressive double for the French, who defeated the world champion Germans 2-0 on Friday. The result will be of little importance, though.
"I think the world of football has to stay strong together," England captain Wayne Rooney said. "I'm sure everyone will do that and try to deal with the situation to the best everyone knows how to do. I'm sure football will bring people together."