LONDON (Reuters) – France wanted Tuesday’s friendly international against England to go ahead at Wembley Stadium mainly for symbolic reasons following Friday’s deadly attacks in Paris, said FA chief executive Martin Glenn.
“The eyes of the world will be on the game. It’s important to do something to show that terrorism can’t win,” Glenn told a packed news conference which focused mainly on the security situation ahead of the match.
France were playing Germany in Paris on Friday as a wave of attacks hit the city, killing at least 132 people.
The France squad spent Friday night inside the Stade de France with their Germany counterparts after their 2-0 friendly win over the world champions.
“We spoke to the French Federation on Saturday, and were in touch with the French presidents’ office and there were two conditions to hold the game,” added Glenn.
“UK authorities and government need to make sure it was safe and the French wanted to play. They wanted to go ahead, for mainly symbolic reasons, and we were very happy to meet their concerns.”
England manager Roy Hodgson added: “It will be tough I’m sure for the French players but I’m sure it will be a chance for them to do the country proud. They’ll give everything they can to make France proud.”
Glenn advised supporters to get to the game early because of the extra security checks that will be carried out in the wake of the attacks that also left more than 350 people wounded.
Islamic State claimed responsibility and said it sent militants with suicide bombing belts and carrying machine guns to various locations in the heart of Paris.
Glenn added: “I just want to reconfirm that the security apparatus and the people that advise us say that there is no material risk so the game should go ahead. We would like fans to turn up earlier and we will do more checks.”
France midfielder Lassana Diarra’s cousin, Asta Diakite, was among those killed on Friday, while striker Antoine Griezmann’s sister escaped from the Bataclan theatre where 89 people died.
A bystander and three suicide bombers died in explosions outside the stadium while the game was being played.
The France squad has arrived in London for Tuesday’s match with England, whose players observed a Europe-wide minute’s silence at 1100 GMT before their training session on Monday.
Wembley’s iconic arch will be lit in the red, white and blue of the French flag to show solidarity and screens outside the ground will show the motto ‘Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite’
The words of the French national anthem will be shown on screens before the match, with Glenn saying: “We will be singing it in French. I think that will be a powerful thing.”
(Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)