Thursday 27 October 2016

lloris: Friendly a great moment of solidarity

French captain respects decision to go ahead with England friendly

France manager Didier Deschamps trains his squad in Wembley
France manager Didier Deschamps trains his squad in Wembley
France captain Hugo Lloris is pictured during a press conference ahead of tonight’s friendly against England

France captain Hugo Lloris insists initial doubts over the sense of playing tonight's friendly against England were quickly replaced by a desire for a "great moment of solidarity".

Didier Deschamps' team have travelled to Wembley despite the terrorist atrocities which hit Paris on Friday night, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet making the decision to proceed with the match.

The squad were exposed to the attacks as their friendly with Germany at the Stade de France was among the targets, with a bystander and three suicide bombers dying in blasts outside the stadium. The players heard explosions but the match continued.

Midfielder Lassana Diarra's cousin Asta Diakite was one of the 129 people who died across the city, while forward Antoine Griezmann's sister Maud managed to escape the mass killing at the Bataclan theatre.


Le Graet opted not to inform the team of the situation until after the match and a report states that several players were then unhappy at being told the England friendly would go ahead, having also not being consulted over that decision - but Lloris insists they are now ready to play for the victims of the attacks.

"We had some doubts and concerns about the game, but in the end the president confirmed we had to play. We respect his decision," Lloris said.

"It's only human to have a few doubts whether to play or not, but the whole situation has been handled very well by the manager, the backroom staff, the technical team and the FFF president.

"The decision to stay at Clairefontaine was taken very, very quickly. Of course we would have liked to have seen our nearest and dearest, but time went very quickly.

"We weren't cut off from the world. We were among ourselves, together, discussing the events of Friday and following things on the television or the internet.

"This will be a good opportunity to represent the French nation. I think the French nation is more important than French football on this night.

"This will be a great moment of solidarity. It will be an opportunity to show our character.

"It's a case of each individual player looking to express himself on the field and representing our country on the pitch - to play for our country and to play for the victims.

"The only thought we can have is to play football and to escape for 90 minutes."

The English Football Association were happy to abandon the fixture and France coach Didier Deschamps offered his players the chance to pull out of the squad if they felt too traumatised by events, but all 23 - including Diarra and Griezmann - chose to travel to London.

The traditional order of the national anthems will be reversed so La Marseillaise will be heard last and England fans are being encouraged to join in with singing it, with the words shown on the stadium screens.

A pre-match display made up by seat posters will form the French Tricolore - Wembley's arch has also been illuminated in red, white and blue - and Tottenham goalkeeper Lloris said: "We're very touched by all the messages of support from all over the world, in particular here in London and England.

"The most important thing about the match is to be together, to be playing together, singing the Marseillaise together as one group. We will share that moment together.

"If lots of the English supporters join in, that will make the moment even stronger, and that will be amazing. It will make it even more emotional."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News