SportSoccer

Armed police will patrol England and France friendly at Wembley

SoccerBy Sunday World
The Wembley arch lit up in the colours of the French flag
The Wembley arch lit up in the colours of the French flag

Armed officers will be deployed at Wembley Stadium for the England v France football match in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, the Metropolitan Police has said.

The international friendly is being played on Tuesday evening, just four days after the coordinated strikes across the French capital that saw 129 people murdered.

Fans have been told to expect an increased police presence at transport hubs and "in and around" the stadium, including armed officers.

Deputy assistant commander Peter Terry, from the Met's Specialist Crime and Operations Command, said: "We've reassessed what security we think we need for tomorrow night's occasion, which will of course be a fairly sombre occasion especially considering who we're playing."

Mr Terry said no specific threat had been made against the match but asked fans to be the police's "eyes and ears".

He urged supporters who noticed anything of concern to approach their nearest police officer, ring the counter-terrorism hotline or call 999.

Speaking outside Scotland Yard's headquarters, Mr Terry said: "We've assessed what happened in France and we've changed what the appearance of the security will look like tomorrow.

"People travelling to and from the ground will see additional police officers at transport modes, they will see additional police officers on the walk up Olympic Way to the stadium, and in and around the stadium they will see armed officers, which is something they wouldn't normally see.

"I won't say that's the first time it's been deployed at a football match, but you will see officers out on foot carrying firearms tomorrow night."

There will be more police officers on horses and with dogs as part of the beefed up security operation, he added.

Police have asked fans to set off 30 to 40 minutes early as there will be extra searches at the stadium.

Mr Terry said: "London and Paris are sister cities. They are extremely diverse and dynamic cities. They will not be cowed by the threat of terrorism.

"It's extremely important we show support to the people of Paris, people we have the greatest sympathy with at this moment in time, and show people we will go about our daily business."

France coach Didier Deschamps told his players they could withdraw from the squad if they felt they were not up to playing in London, but none of them have done so.

It means Lassana Diarra and Antoine Griezmann will take part in the friendly despite being directly affected by the attacks.

Diarra's cousin Asta Diakite died in the attacks. Griezmann's sister managed to escape the mass killing at the Bataclan theatre, where 89 people died after it was stormed by armed terrorists.

The friendly will see Wembley Arch lit up in the red, white and blue colours of the French flag to show solidarity with the visiting nation.

Screens will show the French motto ''Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite'' outside the ground and before kick-off the words of La Marseillaise - the French national anthem - will be shown to help any England fans who want to join in.