Paris: Football and Heartache

Paris: Football and Heartache

Last Friday evening in Paris, 80,000 people watched France play Germany in a friendly soccer match at the Stade de France. Spectators included French President François Hollande and his guests, relatives of people who died in a German plane crash in the French Alps in March. 15 minutes into the game, President Hollande left to take a phone call and learned that a loud noise outside the stadium was caused when a man, stopped as he tried to enter the packed Stade de France, exploded his suicide vest. M. Hollande consulted the Interior Minister and a sports official and decided to keep the news from other spectators, avoiding panic and mass injuries. Elsewhere in Paris, as the game continued, over a hundred people were shot to death as they sat in cafes and restaurants and at a concert.

While French midfielder Lassana Diarra ran up and down the pitch his cousin Asta Diakite was killed in one of the fusillades. “She was like a big sister to me,” he later tweeted. His teammate on Les Bleus, striker Antoine Griezmann, later learned that his sister was one of the hostages who escaped from the Bataclan theater, where 89 people died. Neither man learned about their family members until hours later, early Saturday morning.

By the second half most spectators had learned about the terror attacks through social media, and players on both teams were informed at end of the match and asked to remain in the heavily guarded stadium instead of venturing onto the streets. Mattresses were found, and players and coaches slept at the Stade de France until a team bus arrived for Germany’s Die Mannschaft at about 2 AM.

Oh, France beat Germany 2 to 0.


“Playing through pain: The heartbreaking story of the French soccer star defying the Islamic State,” Michael E. Miller, Washington Post

“France midfielder Lassana Diarra reveals cousin died in Paris terror attacks,” The Guardian

“Decision Not To Evacuate Stade de France During Paris Attacks May Have Saved Many Lives,” Barry Petchesky, Deadspin

“France game with Germany overshadowed by Paris attacks,” The Guardian


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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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