United in defiance

Paris Attacks: Fans turn out in force for England v France friendly

  • 17 November 2015
  • From the section London
Fans arrive early at Wembley Stadium ahead of the friendly gameImage copyright PA
Image caption Fans arrived early at Wembley Stadium ahead of the friendly

Football fans came out in force for England’s friendly against France at Wembley. BBC News spoke to some of the supporters making their way to the match.

Following the deadly Paris attacks, England manager Roy Hodgson said of the fixture there was “something hanging over which is far, far greater than a football match”.

Despite France’s national stadium being targeted on Friday, the Football Association decided to go ahead with the event at Wembley to show the world, “terrorism can’t win”.

Fans arriving at the stadium were vocal in their support of the FA’s stance.

Image copyright Associated Press
Image caption Supporters waved both the French and English flags outside Wembley Stadium

“Everyone’s a bit afraid of leaving the house now, but you have to keep living your life and lots of people are in shock,” said Olivier Mouquet, who was in Le Stade de France on Friday.

“There should have been nine of us here tonight but four chose not to come because their wives and families had persuaded them to stay at home.”

His brother, Xavier, was also at the French stadium where suicide bombers tried to enter during the attacks on the capital.

“We’re here to follow our team, to support France and because life must go on,” he said. “Being here for us is a communion between France and England.”

Image caption Olivier and Xavier Mouqet turned out in support of their country decide being caught up in the attacks on Friday

Bill Tilley, from St Neots in Cambridgeshire, bought the tickets long before the bombings in Paris, to celebrate Callum’s 13th birthday.

He said he and his wife discussed not going to the game but decided it was the right thing to do.

“We shouldn’t change anything, we should be here because of the football and that’s why we are here, and obviously to show a bit of solidarity with the French,” he said.

“What happened was really awful. There’s always a chance something could happen in Britain, but it could happen anywhere.

“You’ve just got to get on with it.”

“My mum was a bit worried,” added 12-year-old Oliver Jones, who was at the game with the Tilleys. “She knows I’m safe but she always worries when I go to big places and it’s my first time at Wembley.”

Image caption Jerome Foules, right, was draped in the blue white and red of the French flag

Jerome Foules, 24, was draped in the tricolour flag of his homeland. He said it was not about the competition but about friendship.

“We wanted to come and support our country and our values and our people,” he said. “We want to show we’re not afraid and its important for us to be here tonight.

“It’s emotional being here, but in a good way. We hope that the English will sing the Marseillaise and when we see Wembley stadium lit up it’s beautiful for us.

“The result of the game is not important.”

Image caption Bill Tilley, far right, said he and his wife discussed not taking the children but decided against it

Chloe Bragg, 17, from Basildon, Essex, said: “We just want to see plenty of scoring, everyone having a good time and not worrying and supporting each other.”

Her father, Paul, added: “I am going to sing the Marseillaise, it’s the only thing I remember from French at school – ‘fermez la porte’.”

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Wembley Stadium was lit up in the colours of the French flag in a show of solidarity

Nathan Smith, who is belatedly celebrating his 21st birthday, was another fan who braved the heavy police presence and strong winds to attend the game.

“My nan told me to sit near the exit, but my mum just hopes it’s a good match,” he said.

The tickets were purchased as a present for him many months ago. “I was always going to turn up and I am excited,” he added.

Alex Cipriano was sporting a blue top emblazoned with the word France.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There was a heavy police presence guarding the stadium

The 24-year-old from Metz in north-east France jumped on a bus at 23:00 GMT on Monday to get here with his two friends.

“There were 50 of us on the tour but three people cancelled after the attacks.

“We are not afraid though, why should we be?” he said.

“This was not just against us, it was against you, me, everyone. We just like football.”

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