Paris Attacks: Sports Events Postponed, Euro 2016 Organizer Against Cancellation
"Wondering whether Euro 2016 must be canceled is playing the game of the terrorists," says the organizer of the soccer tournament scheduled to take place in 10 cities across France next year.
The Friday night attacks in Paris, in which 129 people were killed and many more injured, have led to the postponement of major sports events in the French capital and even other parts of the country this weekend, with at least one soccer match canceled.
The attacks included one outside the city's Stade de France while France played Germany in a soccer friendly. Both national teams spent the night at the stadium.
All European Rugby Cup and Challenge Cup matches scheduled to take place in France this weekend were postponed. An Under-20s soccer match between England and France in Brittany on Saturday was called off, the BBC reported. Volleyball and handball matches, as well as an international Taekwondo scheduled for Paris this weekend were also postponed, it said.
The French and English soccer federations say a planned Tuesday friendly in England is for now scheduled to take place. The BBC reported that France scrapped a planned open training session and press conference. The game, scheduled for London's Wembley Stadium, could still be called off if there are significant objections from either side, the BBC said.
England was last forced to cancel a home game four years ago. Back then, a friendly against Holland was called off following the London riots.
With the Friday attacks following January's Charlie Hebdo attack and other incidents of violence, some are now wondering about the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, which is scheduled to take place in 10 cities across France, including Paris, Nice, Lyon and Marseille, from June 10 through July 10. The tournament will feature 24 teams, up from 16 previously.
Tournament organizer Jacques Lambert told French radio station RTL that the tournament should take place at planned, according to the BBC. "Wondering whether Euro 2016 must be canceled is playing the game of the terrorists," it quoted him as saying. "The risk went up one level in January, it has just gone higher."
Noel Le Graet, the president of the French soccer governing body, told L’Equipe, according to The Telegraph: "For the Euro, there was already a big worry. Today, it’s obviously even stronger." But the BBC But there are no recent examples of atrocities at major global sporting events, possibly because security around them is so tight, meaning it is highly unlikely that Euro 2016 will be reallocated.
France is also scheduled to host rugby’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals in Lyon at the end of the season.
Sports stars have spoken out after the Paris attacks. "I'm appalled by the shocking scenes in Paris at the moment," former France national player and soccer star Thierry Henry tweeted. "My thoughts are with all the victims and innocent people suffering right now."
And David Beckham was quoted by Sky Sports as saying: "It was terribly devastating to see the scenes, unfortunately we see it around the world and have seen it recently." He added: "On behalf of myself, the managers, players, and fans we all send out our condolences to those who lost loved ones in Paris and our heart goes out to everyone in France."