Minute’s silence across French football for terrorist attack victims
A minute’s silence will be held at football grounds in France this weekend out of respect for the victims of the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper, the French Football Federation (FFF) has announced.
Twelve people died in the attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly newspaper that had been threatened before for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed.
A statement from the FFF on Thursday read: "Following the terrible attack yesterday at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, the French Football Federation has decided to observe a minute’s silence in all fields of the Hexagon this weekend, at national and regional matches.
"The entire family of French football joins the general spirit of solidarity and affirms its support for the families of the victims."
The governing body for French rugby union, the Federation Francaise de Rugby (FFR), also announced a minute’s silence will be held before the next round of matches in the top two divisions.
It posted on Twitter: "The Top 14 and Pro D2 will also respect a minute of silence."
The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) also announced a similar period of reflection will be held before matches in the top two tiers kick-off this weekend out of respect for the victims and their families.
The Ligue 1 clash between Lille and Evian on Wednesday night was preceded by a minute’s silence at the Pierre Mauroy.
A statement on www.lfp.fr read: "A minute’s silence will precede the weekend meetings of the 20th day of Ligue 1 and the 19th day of Ligue 2."
Eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor were killed in the attack, said prosecutor Francois Molins. He said 11 people were wounded – four of them seriously.
One suspect in the deadly shooting has turned himself in, as police hunt for two heavily armed men with possible links to al Qaida.
President Francois Hollande, visiting the scene of France’s deadliest such attack in more than half a century, called the assault on the weekly newspaper "an act of exceptional barbarism".
France raised its terror alert system to the maximum – Attack Alert – and bolstered security with more than 800 extra soldiers to guard media offices, places of worship, transport and other sensitive areas.
Schools closed across Paris, although thousands of people jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honour the victims, waving pens and papers reading "Je suis Charlie" – "I am Charlie".
Similar rallies were held in London’s Trafalgar Square as well as Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin and Brussels.
Two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga posted a picture on Twitter in support of the victims.
The 29-year-old Frenchman, who pulled out of the Australian Open with a persistent arm injury earlier this week, tweeted a picture on Thursday, which read: "Je Suis Charlie".
Former tennis star and 2013 Wimbledon women’s singles winner Marion Bartoli, who was born in Haute-Loire in the south-east of France, sent out a message of support.
The 2011 French Open semi-finalist, who retired from playing professional tennis 18 months ago, tweeted: "My thoughts are with the victims of this terrible tragedy … #CharlieHebdo #JeSuisCharlie."
Thousands of message of support for France continued pouring out on Twitter from around the world, with national and local newspapers and agencies showing Charlie Hebdo that they are not alone.
The French Union of Sports Journalists (UJSF) has spoken out in support and has called on "all the journalists present at sporting events to brandish their press card during the minute of silence to express their solidarity".
A statement on its official website, www.ujsf.fr, read: "The Union of Sports Journalists in France has expressed its deep emotion on its website by the voice of president Jean-Marc Michel after the horrific attacks against Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday morning.
"We condemn these acts against the freedom of expression of journalists and our thoughts are with the families of all the victims of this tragedy.
"In the continuity of the initiatives taken by the leagues and sports federations to pay tribute to the victims this weekend, UJSF calls on its members and all the journalists present at sporting events to brandish their press card during the minute of silence to express their solidarity and also their firm intention to oppose the barbarism and fight in the name of freedom of expression."
Basketball was another sport to throw its support behind the movement, with the French Basketball Federation (FFBB) also calling for a minute’s silence.
An FFBB statement read: "Like all the population, French basketball was profoundly shocked by this barbaric act. That is why the FFBB requests that all affiliated clubs observe a minute of silence this weekend ahead of their matches."