French ambassador Yves Saint Geours visited the AS head office yesterday along with representatives from the sports and culture ministry. The main talking point during the visits was of course the forthcoming European Championship despite one or two tangents focusing on Zidane and Benzema, Euro 2016 was the main focus. France are the hosts of the forthcoming tournament. They are faced with a key task, that of being a standard bearer for our daily freedom and that the shadow of terrorism is not permitted to lurk as was the case last November when many people lost their lives in the French capital in the terrible terrorist attacks.
The fall-out of those events led to the cancellation of the Belgium-Spain friendly scheduled for the following week in Brussels. At the time the Belgian authorities felt that it was perilous to hold a sporting nature of this event. This disappointment was counter-balanced with the staging of the England-France friendly match at Wembley, which will be remembered for some time for an emotional pre-game rendition of “La Marsellesa". Just last week marking 100 days ahead of the start of the competition there was talk of certain games possibly being played behind closed doors. Yesterday, Yves Saint Geours rejected this notion. Throughout our time together he defended the French commitment to a successful and safe tournament.
This commitment revolves around a football tournament taking place with absolute normality within a country in the EU. France was the birth-place of ‘The Revolution’, that saw us all change our status of subordinates to citizens. Frances’ contribution to the world of sport is absolute: Olympic Games, Tour de France and the World Cup in 1998. Now the country is faced with hosting the European Championship with the potential threat of a terrorist attack lurking in the shadows. It won’t be easy but France is confident in its skill and expertise and that of its allies (in which Spain is included) to achieve a positive outcome.