Unlike most other major terrorist attacks, the Paris horrors last Friday involved soccer and a major international game. Because the world’s game was in the cross hairs – and it was due to some security smarts that the incident was not more deadly – it seemed natural that league games across the world today (the first league games after the international break) would recognize the incident. More poignantly were the stories of French internationals and their reactions to the incident, which meant that these tributes would be even more meaningful.
Over the day, I watched three separate league tributes at the beginning of games – the Watford/Manchester United pre-game, the El Clasico pre-game, and the Juventus-Milan pre-game.
The EPL pre-game was similar to how the England-France pre-game was approached. Both teams mixed together to line up and a recorded vocal performance of Les Marseillaise was played. The intent was to show unity between the teams as the anthem was played.
Fans who were attending El Clasico were warned about the enhanced security, which made sense considering how high profile it was and how major of a terror target it was. Prior to the match, the two teams and their managers lined up – separately – as a musical version of the French anthem was played.
But by far the most impressive was the display in Turin, as again the teams lined up to hear a rendition of Les Marseillaise. However, the camera panned into the stands to show a massive French flag tifo behind the teams and massive designed signs saying “Peace” and “We Love Paris”. It makes sense with so many French players between the two teams that this tribute would be the most poignant, but the fans’ contribution was what made it especially special. Granted, NBC’s cameras may not have focused on the fans as much and we may have been deprived of fan tributes, but both El Clasico and the Serie A match were shown on BeIn Sports.
It’s interesting how three leagues can do the same tribute but they end up so differently.