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The Game They Cannot Stop – A Note from the Editor

“There is a type of magic when men combine their energies to express a common idea. That is where sport becomes beautiful.”

A quote from Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, in an interview published just ten days ago by L’Équipe’s Sport & Style Magazine.

Reporting on the events of Friday night in real time was a bit like watching a loved one suffering through immense pain without quite being able to die. I just wanted it to stop. I wanted it not to get any worse.

The thought of going to watch a football match and never being able to come home again is one that I never imagined that we would be forced to ever reconsider in French football.

While I did not attend the match myself, it was difficult not to be frightened by the events that unfolded that night.

Attending a football match, for the overwhelming majority of the 80,000 people who were present at the Stade de France to watch France play Germany, was supposed to be an enjoyable experience. Especially on a Friday evening when, for a large portion of the people present inside the stadium, the working week had come to an end.

Not to mention the prospect of an incredibly exciting football match, when one considered the calibre of the two sides on show that night: the reigning world champions coming up against one of the emerging favourites to win EURO 2016, on home soil.

The fact that the first audible explosion in the first half was in large majority met by cheers from the fans, who thought it was perhaps a firework, all too well sums up the dumbfounding tragedy of this attack on football, this attack on Paris, and indeed, this attack on France.

Get French Football News’s success is derived from, I believe, an ability to form a bridge between French football and the English speaking-world. It is an ability to provide people from all countries across the world in fact with the tools to enjoy and develop an interest in French football.

I feel it is therefore appropriate to thank everybody who has sent their support not only our way but in every other way for Paris and France in the last few days, no matter how small or how great the gesture.

When a community is ripped apart, when loved ones are lost, even just a few words, or even just a hashtag on social media, starts to restore a belief in humanity, it starts to replant the seeds of faith that we can all come through this stronger and more united.

Tonight, England play host to France in what is the second of two friendlies for Les Bleus during this international break. I want to commend every single person who attends the game tonight, for showing that you will not be deterred by the actions of hateful individuals from attending a game of the sport that you love.

Over the course of the ninety minutes, there will be two people that I will be thinking particularly of. One is the admin of the @FrenchToffees Twitter account, who lost his life on Friday night. Get French Football News was never in contact with him, but by creating a social media movement aimed at increasing the support for an English football club in France, our aims while the opposite, were very similar: to bring football from one side of the Channel to another. Everyone at Get French Football News’s thoughts are with those who knew him and those who loved him.

The other is Lassana Diarra, the French international defensive midfielder who tragically lost his cousin on Friday evening as a result of the terrorist attacks. The French Football Federation offered the Marseille man the opportunity not to make the short trip to London, but he was resolute in his decision to remain with the squad.

Diarra has presumably taken the view that the best way in which he can honour his cousin is by giving everything he has for the country he represents by doing his job on the pitch – a truly noble decision.

It was more than understandable when several members of the French national team were initially apprehensive about playing in tonight’s match, but the French Football Federation’s decision to maintain the fixture must be praised.

The unity that Parisians have shown, that France has shown, and indeed that the rest of the world has shown in solidarity for the victims of these atrocities is nothing short of beautiful. It shows strength, that the world is standing tall in the face of evil.

Owing to the French Football Federation’s decision to play the fixture tonight, football has the chance this evening to show, in the words of FFF president Noël Le Graët: “that life goes on, that the shirt means something, that France remains standing and our sportsmen are representing it with pride.”

Tonight, not only through fantastic initiatives such as the FA attempting to bring the English-speaking crowd to singing the French national anthem La Marseillaise side-by-side with the French fans in the stands, but also by simply attending the fixture, France and England can display a united front against those who wish to terrorize our society, at the very type of event that was targeted so heinously on Friday night.

“There is a type of magic when men combine their energies to express a common idea. That is where sport becomes beautiful.”

Allez les Bleus. Vive la France. Thank you and enjoy the game.

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