Tuesday 16 July 2019

'They just shot him, and I heard him land' - Antoine Griezmann's sister recalls Bataclan attack

Antoine Griezmann and the Bataclan Theatre
Antoine Griezmann and the Bataclan Theatre

Tom Rooney

Without question the most profoundly poignant element of tonight’s European Championship semi-final between France and Germany, is that it is the first meeting between the two nations since last year’s terror attacks in Paris.

Maud Griezmann and her boyfriend, Simon Degoul, were among the roughly 1,500 in attendance at the Bataclan Theatre on a brisk winter night.

The venue, which was built in 1864 as an Asian-themed café, had, since the 1970s, played host to acts such as The Police, Jerry Lee Lewis, Snoop Dogg and the Backstreet Boys.

It was November 13 2015, a Friday, and the Eagles of Death Metal were the headlining act in the Parisian Theatre.

Meanwhile, just outside the city limits, the French national football team were taking on world champions Germany in a friendly at the Stade de France.

Maud’s brother, Antoine, was lining out for Les Blues, the prolific Atletico Madrid striker is considered among the world’s best in his position.

Unbeknownst to Maud and her fellow revellers, the city was under attack.

The match had barely matured beyond its tentative stages when the jarring din of a pair of suicide bombers detonating their devices just beyond the ground, commandeered the attention of players and fans alike.

Within a half an hour, the Bataclan Theatre was peppered by a volley of gunfire.

“At first we thought it was a prank, a joke,” Maud Griezmann told the New York Times this week.

Soon thereafter, a team of heavily armed terrorists flooded into the venue and, she, Simon and those around them, quickly sought safety on the floor. Her account is visceral and chilling.

“If you moved, you were shot. A person next to me moved, and they shot him. They just shot him, and I heard him land.”

For the next hour and a half, Maud, Simon and a women close by intermittently grabbed each other’s hands as means of signalling they were still alive. They would never learn her name or, for that matter, what she looked like.

In total, 130 people died that night, 89 of them at the Bataclan Theatre. However, Maud refuses to view tonight’s game in Marseille through a prism of sentiment.

“It is an important game for Antoine, for the team, for the fans. But it is not something other than that. I don’t think about football with what happened. I try not to think about it at all.”

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