Monday 26 August 2019

Brave Lassana Diarra to make trip to Wembley following death of cousin in Paris terror attacks

Lassana Diarra battles it out with Mario Gomez during last Friday’s friendly in Paris
Lassana Diarra battles it out with Mario Gomez during last Friday’s friendly in Paris

All 23 members of the France squad - including Lassana Diarra and Antoine Griezmann - will fly to England for Tuesday's friendly at Wembley, an official from the French football federation has said.

Diarra's cousin Asta Diakite was one of the 129 people who died in the Paris terror attacks on Friday night.

Griezmann's sister, meanwhile, managed to escape the mass killing at the Bataclan theatre, where 89 people died after it was stormed by armed terrorists.

Both were playing in France's friendly win over Germany at the Stade de France on Friday - which was also targeted by terrorists - while the attacks took place.

France coach Didier Deschamps offered his players the chance to pull out of the squad for Tuesday's match against England in London if they did not feel up to it.

But despite being directly affected by the attacks, both players have remained with the squad and will fly to England for next week's friendly, according to France's team media officer Philippe Tournon.

"All the players are coming," he told Press Association Sport.

France will hold a press conference at Wembley on Monday afternoon before taking part in a training session at the stadium.

Deschamps and a France player are due to speak at the event.

The France coach and his players were visibly shocked when they saw footage of the attacks being shown on television following the win over Germany in Paris.

Suicide bombers targeted the area outside the stadium and the players heard the explosions, but the match continued.

The Football Association (FA) was happy to cancel the friendly at Wembley if its French counterparts felt it would not be appropriate to play the match, but the FFF said it should go ahead as planned.

The FA and England manager Roy Hodgson expressed their condolences to the people of France on Saturday.

For Tuesday's friendly, 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.

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

Thousands of people are calling for the FA to make the game "a symbol of friendship and fraternite" by donating profits to charity.

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

Creator Ben Lyons, from London, wrote on the site: "Ten years ago, Parisians stood shoulder to shoulder with Londoners after the 7 July bombings. Today, England and France are united in grief.

"As the national sport of both our countries, football brings us together."

The FA, though, has already made plans for the fixture to raise money for another cause, with a spokesman saying: "The fixture has already been designated as a Breast Cancer Care international and so we have donated funds from the ticket sales to our current charity partner. This has been the case for some months now.

"We have been also been liaising with the French Football Federation who have advised us on the appropriate way to pay our respects following the tragic events in Paris."

PA Media

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