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The night football became irrelevant to Germany and France

11   //    05 Jul 2016, 23:08 IST
A girl holds a candle in memory of victims of the Paris attacks, in the coastal town of Limassol, Cyprus November 15, 2015. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou/Files
A girl holds a candle in memory of victims of the Paris attacks, in the coastal town of Limassol, Cyprus November 15, 2015. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou/Files

By Patrick Vignal

PARIS (Reuters) - France won 2-0 the last time they played world champions Germany on November 13, 2015 but few that night cared about soccer.

The old rivals, meeting again on Thursday for a place in the final of Euro 2016, have fought many epic battles over the years, including two intense World Cup semi-finals.

But the friendly international at the Stade de France in Paris last November will not be remembered for the goals scored by Olivier Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac.

As the French and German players contesting the game in Marseille on Thursday know very well, events off the pitch dominated the night.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks which killed 130 people across Paris, including 90 at the Bataclan concert hall.

Two explosions were clearly heard in the first half from inside the ground, located on the outskirts of Paris. The game continued and the players had to wait until after the final whistle to find out what had happened.

Waiting for the French team on the way to the changing rooms were junior Minister of Sport Thierry Braillard and French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet.

The players were told that gunmen had launched several attacks across the capital and that three suicide bombers had blown themselves up outside the stadium.

France striker Antoine Griezmann had a horrible feeling when he heard that shootings were taking place at a rock concert at the Bataclan Hall. He knew his sister Maud was at a concert but he did not know which one, so he made inquiries.

"Thank God, my sister was able to get out of the Bataclan," he tweeted a bit later. "All my prayers go to the victims and their families".


At the Stade de France, the fans, who had felt something was wrong when they saw a helicopter fly over at halftime, were told to stay inside for about 20 minutes after the game before they were allowed to leave.

Security officials took the decision to avoid any panic and also because they wanted to make sure none of the attackers could get into the stadium.

The German players were then forced to spend the night in the bowels of the stadium before racing to the airport at dawn.

After the attacks, security became a major issue for Euro 2016 where more than 90,000 police, soldiers and private security agents have been deployed. No major incident has been reported so far.

"We feel safe here at the moment and are not thinking about it," said Germany centre back Jerome Boateng, who has not brought his family to Paris on security concerns. "We are only focusing on the sporting angle. The rest is not relevant."

Giroud said he had spoken to Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil, his team mate at Arsenal, after the November 13 game.

"We were all in a state of shock, French and German" he said. "Whether that has changed anything to our relations with Germany, I don't know. We still want to push them aside".

(Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann. Editing by Adrian Warner.)

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