Sunday 11 December 2016

Premier League clubs stand together in powerful show of support for France

Published 21/11/2015 | 16:34

General view during a minutes silence in memory of the Paris attacks before the Chelsea v Norwich match
General view during a minutes silence in memory of the Paris attacks before the Chelsea v Norwich match

La Marseillaise rang around the Premier League grounds as football showed its solidarity in paying its respects to those killed in the Paris terrorism attacks last Friday.

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It is the first round of Premier League games since the attacks in France that killed 130 people and players linked arms as the French national anthem reverberated around the stadiums.

At Stamford Bridge where Chelsea were hosting Norwich a large French flag was unfurled as both sets of players belted out the anthem.

And it was similar sight across all seven Premier League grounds.

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Players during a minutes silence for the Paris attacks before the match
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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger joined his players in paying his respects as he sang along from the touchline with his players joining their opponents.

And his French compatriot Remi Garde, in just his second match in charge of Aston Villa, joined in with his players ahead of their clash with Everton at Goodison Park.

There was an increased police presence around the grounds as the clubs followed guidance from anti-terrorism agencies.

Anderlecht's game at Lokeren in the Belgian top flight was called off as the police presence in Brussels meant security could not be guaranteed.

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Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said the decision to raise the threat alert to the highest level was taken "based on quite precise information about the risk of an attack like the one that happened in Paris ... where several individuals with arms and explosives launch actions, perhaps even in several places at the same time".

A statement from the Pro League said: "Considered a risky game, Lokeren had to call in staff from Brussels. But given the increase in the terrorist threat to the maximum level in the capital, they can not be moved to Lokeren.

"That is why the mayor of Lokeren decided, following the advice of the FPS Home Affairs crisis centre, not to allow the game to go ahead."

Anderlecht are the only team in the Belgian top division that play in Brussels.

Everton and Aston Villa players stand together for a minutes silence before the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 21, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Everton. Photo credit should read: Barrington Coombs/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or
Everton and Aston Villa players stand together for a minutes silence before the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 21, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Everton. Photo credit should read: Barrington Coombs/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

The Davis Cup final between Belgium and Great Britain is due to take place next weekend in Ghent, only 35 miles from Brussels.

ITF president David Haggerty said in a statement: "Over the last week, the ITF has been in constant contact with the relevant authorities, the Royal Belgian Tennis Federation, the Lawn Tennis Association and our risk assessment company, and this dialogue continues today.

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Blackburn Rovers players during a minutes silence in memory of the victims in the Paris attacks before the match
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"We are aware that Belgium has raised the terror alert level for Brussels. This greatly concerns us but, at the present time, we are still continuing with preparations for the final.

"What I said last weekend is true today: security of players, fans, media and working staff remains our highest priority."

The message from the British team so far has been very much that they are keen to carry on as normal, with Andy Murray saying: "I don't want to live my life in fear each time I step on a tennis court."

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