Hodgson: ‘Football united against these atrocities’

Date published: Sunday 15th November 2015 8:25

Roy Hodgson: Shocked

Roy Hodgson: Shocked

England boss Roy Hodgson says Tuesday’s Wembley match with France “shows that the football world is united against these atrocities”.

Hodgson and his players were “shocked” by the terrorist attacks inn Paris on Friday but he respects the decision to go ahead with Tuesday night’s friendly.

At least 128 people died in a series of attacks in the French capital – one of which took place near the Stade de France, where Les Bleus were playing Germany in a friendly.

England were playing Spain in Alicante at the time but once they returned to their hotel on the outskirts of Benidorm after the match, the scale of the tragedy became clear.

Hodgson, his coaching staff and players watched coverage of the attacks on television when they returned from their 2-0 loss and they were shocked by what they saw.

“The match will be a serious occasion but one that shows the football world is united against these atrocities. I’m sure the England team and the fans will play their part and show solidarity with our French friends on Tuesday and provide support for both teams during this difficult time,” said Hodgson.

“On behalf of the England coaching staff and players, I would like to pass on our heartfelt condolences to the French nation at this extremely difficult time.

“The events in Paris have left us all shocked and we are thinking of the victims, their loved ones and all those affected by these tragic events.”

Despite the attacks, France’s friendly against England at Wembley on Tuesday will go ahead.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn told his French counterpart Noel Le Graet in the early hours of Saturday morning that he would have no complaints if the French Football Federation (FFF) did not want the game to go ahead.

But the FFF felt cancelling the game would send out the wrong message.

“Shortly after the match last night (Friday) The FA contacted the FFF to express our deep sympathy and ask if they wanted to go ahead with Tuesday’s scheduled game at Wembley Stadium,” Hodgson added.

“Today (Saturday) the FFF has informed us they would still like to play the fixture. We respect that decision and will prepare accordingly – both on and off the pitch.

“The match will be a serious occasion but one that shows that the football world is united against these atrocities.

“I’m sure the England team and our fans will play their part and show solidarity with our French friends on Tuesday evening and provide support for both teams during this difficult time.”

The FA has been liaising with the government, their French counterparts and the Metropolitan Police. All parties agreed the game should go ahead.

It is understood security will be heightened at Wembley.

Extra police are likely to be drafted in and it is understood the FA will be enhancing its security and search procedures for fans entering the stadium.

Sources said there has been no intelligence about a threat to the game. If a threat emerges, the decision to play the game will be re-assessed.

The FFF will be hosted in the Royal Box and there is a chance the Wembley Arch will be lit up in red white and blue to show solidarity with the French.

“I’m sure it will be quite an emotional evening” a senior FA official said.

There was an understandably sombre mood on England’s flight back to Luton airport on Saturday afternoon.

“Everyone was aware of the tragic events in Paris, they put everything into perspective in a sporting sense,” one member of the travelling party said.

The attacks raise long-term concerns about safety at Euro 2016, which is being held in France.

The FA’s head of security Tony Conniford will decide how best to safeguard the England staff and players, and the organisation plans to pass on advice to fans.

Glenn, FA chairman Greg Dyke and Hodgson are due to attend the Euro 2016 draw in Paris on December 12. The FA will decide whether all three should go once they have received security advice from UEFA.

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