Thursday 29 September 2016

'We won't give in to terrorists' - Euro 2016 will go ahead as planned

Published 16/11/2015 | 08:14

Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris. Multiple fatal attacks throughout the city have prompted President Francois Hollande to announce he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 in Saint Denis, outside Paris. Multiple fatal attacks throughout the city have prompted President Francois Hollande to announce he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Talk of cancelling Euro 2016 would be "playing into the hands of terrorists", according to the head of the tournament's organising committee.

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Jacques Lambert promised France would take the "necessary decisions" to ensure next summer's event took place in safety in the wake of Friday's attacks in Paris in which 132 people were killed and hundreds more injured.

The incidents - following on from the killing of 12 people by gunmen in January - has naturally raised concerns about the country's hosting of next year's European Championships, but backing down now is not an option for the hosts.

"To ask questions about the cancellation of Euro 2016 is to play into the hands of the terrorists," Lambert told French broadcaster RTL.

"The risk level was up a notch in January, and it just got up a notch.

"We will take the necessary decisions for Euro 2016 to take place in the best safety conditions.

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"I will not reveal what we are going to do because that would alert our opponents.

"The security in stadiums works well, the risk is more out in the streets, in spontaneous gatherings."

French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet echoed those sentiments, insisting safety must be a priority.

"We will do whatever it takes to ensure security despite all the risks that entails. I know everyone is vigilant," he said.

"Obviously this causes us to be even more vigilant but it is a permanent situation for the federation and the state."

The FFF cancelled the draw for the eighth round of the Coupe de France, scheduled to take place at Paris' Vincennes racecourse on Tuesday.

Confirmation of a new date and venue will be made as soon as possible for the draw between the 88 teams due to play on December 5 and 6.

However, it is business as usual for the national team, with all 23 members of the France squad - including Lassana Diarra and Antoine Griezmann - flying to England for Tuesday's friendly at Wembley.

Diarra's cousin Asta Diakite was one of the victims, while Griezmann's sister managed to escape the mass killing at the Bataclan theatre.

France coach Didier Deschamps gave players the chance to withdraw, but none did after the FFF declined the Football Association's offer to cancel the match.

The Wembley Arch will be lit up in the red, white and blue colours of the French flag to show solidarity with the visiting nation.

Screens will show the French motto 'Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite' outside the ground and before kick-off the words of La Marseillaise - the French national anthem - will be shown to help any England fans who want to join in.

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The FA has urged fans to get to Wembley early as there will be increased security checks in light of the attacks.

More than 14,000 have signed an online petition asking FA chairman Greg Dyke to give proceeds from the game to the French Red Cross and French charity Medecins Sans Frontieres to help support victims of the attacks.

All around the world this weekend sport has paid its respects and offered support, with the French tricolour prominent at many events.

On the grid before the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix the drivers stood for a minute's silence which was already scheduled to remember those who had been killed in road traffic accidents over the year, but was subsequently also used as a moment to remember the Paris victims, with driver Sebastien Grosjean holding his national flag.

World rally champion Sebastien Ogier refused to celebrate his victory in the Wales Rally GB, placing a tricolour over his Volkswagen Polo's windscreen at the end and holding it on the podium at a muted presentation ceremony.

The German Football Federation (DFB) confirmed Tuesday's friendly fixture Holland will proceed as scheduled.

Germany were forced to sleep at the Stade de France after Friday's 2-0 friendly defeat by France, but in a show of support insist the horrific incidents will not affect their plans.

"The message is clear - we will not be intimidated by terror," said DFB vice-president Dr Reinhard Rauball.

"Head coach Joachim Low and every single player gave their respect for this demonstration of solidarity for the victims and the entire French population."

Team manager Oliver Bierhoff added: "We wanted to set a stance of togetherness as a team. With the French population, with all those connected to the victims. The whole team, players, coaches and backroom staff - it's still affecting them a lot."

Bath chairman Bruce Craig has suggested his team's fixture against Toulon, which was postponed on Saturday following the attacks, may never take place due to the difficulty of rescheduling it.

The fixture was one of five rugby matches to be called off on Saturday. Officials are due to meet on Monday to discuss rescheduling the games, but Craig believes it will prove impossible in Bath's case due to fixture congestion following the Rugby World Cup.

"It is very clear to me that the Toulon match can't happen," Craig told the Daily Telegraph.

"The midweek option is not an option to my mind as that would to the detriment of player welfare as well as the integrity of two competitions, an important Champions Cup game being squeezed in with all the attendant travel issues between two Premiership weekends.

"There is no way we should be letting that happen. You can't play three high-profile games in a week.

"In the wider context of what has happened in Paris, this is not a serious matter, of course it isn't. And I do understand why the decision was taken.

"But from a rugby point of view, and from the point of view of the competition, this is an issue of significant consequence. There is no place to fit it in. It is a bit of a disaster in that regard."

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