The Premier League has announced the French national anthem will be played before all matches this weekend in remembrance for those affected by the terror attacks on Paris.
There are 72 French players at top-flight clubs, the biggest number from a single nationality after England, and a choral version of La Marseillaise will be played after the coin toss, with players from both teams joining officials in the centre circle facing the main stand.
Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said: “Given how close we are as well as the long-standing relationship that exists between the Premier League and France, playing La Marseillaise as an act of solidarity and remembrance is the right thing to do.
“We were all saddened and deeply shocked by the events in Paris last Friday, and the fact it was an attack on people enjoying their everyday freedoms like going to a bar, a concert or a football match resonates with football fans and the general public throughout the UK.”
The move follows England and France fans joining together to sing La Marseillaise at Tuesday’s friendly international at Wembley, to remember the 129 people who died. England fans also held aloft a mosaic of the French flag during the national anthem.
Premier League managers have welcomed the move – Arsenal’s French boss Arsene Wenger whose side play at West Brom on Saturday, said: ”I think it’s a nice gesture of solidarity. It’s not an obvious one for the fans, just like it would not be an obvious one for fans in France to sing God Save the Queen, because they don’t know the words.
”Symbolically it’s a very nice gesture.”
Everton manager Roberto Martinez added: “I think we all experienced the feelings surrounding the game between England and France on Tuesday.
“It was a fantastic vehicle for showing solidarity and what the game of football can do, and I think this weekend would be exactly the same.
“It’s a perfect way to show the game has a strong role in getting humanity together to show that solidarity.”
Southampton boss Ronald Koeman also backed the idea.
He said: “It’s a good, important show of support. We have around 70 French players in the Premier League and it would be good support for them.
“It happened in France but it could happen anywhere,” added Koeman. “What happened was unbelievable.”
Premier League clubs will also liaise with their local police forces to deliver extra security measures at matches this weekend due to the “heightened sense of awareness” after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. Although the ‘severe’ threat level remains unchanged, the clubs have been fully briefed on the latest security advice.
Scudamore said: “The clubs have been fully briefed in context of the current guidance from national security services and are liaising with their local police forces to ensure the appropriate security and safety measures are in place for their matches and stadiums.”
League officials have been speaking to police and security advisors as well as the Home Office in relation to the safety and security issues at matches in light of the terrorist attacks, one of which targeted France’s friendly against Germany at the Stade de France.
Security guidance is provided to the league – via the police – from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office.