London: The French national anthem will be played before all English top-flight games this weekend as a mark of solidarity over the Paris attacks, the Premier League announced on Thursday. It comes after fans joined together to sing 'La Marseillaise' prior to England's 2-0 friendly win over France at Wembley on Tuesday, four days on from the attacks that left 129 dead and over 350 injured.
"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," Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said in a statement.
"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."
A choral version of the anthem will be played after the captains' coin toss while players from both teams stand with the match officials in the centre circle. The Paris attacks began with suicide bombings outside the Stade de France while France played Germany in a friendly, resulting in the deaths of three attackers and one bystander.
Germany's subsequent friendly with the Netherlands in Hanover on Tuesday was called off, as well as Belgium's match against Spain in Brussels. But France's game against England at Wembley went ahead, with fans uniting in a stirring chorus of the Marseillaise before kick-off. There are currently 72 French players playing in the English top flight -- second only to the number of English players -- while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and his Aston Villa counterpart Remi Garde are both French.
Premier League clubs are due to discuss extra security measures at this weekend's matches with local police forces. The league has said there is a "heightened sense of awareness" after the attacks in the Paris capital and while the terror threat level remains unchanged, clubs have been briefed with updated security advice.
"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," Scudamore said.
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