Football: France's national anthem rings out ahead of Premier League matches

Racing 92 players sing as 'La Marseillaise' is played for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks ahead of the European Rugby Champions Cup rugby union match between Scarlets and Racing 92 at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli, south west Wales, on Nov 2
Racing 92 players sing as 'La Marseillaise' is played for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks ahead of the European Rugby Champions Cup rugby union match between Scarlets and Racing 92 at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli, south west Wales, on Nov 21, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - France's national anthem, 'La Marseillaise', was played before kick-off of all Saturday's Premier League matches as the English football's top-flight honoured victims of the Paris terror attacks.

Some 130 people were killed and over 350 injured in a series of incidents across the French capital on Friday, Nov 13, which included a suicide attack outside the Stade de France, where France were playing Germany in a friendly international.

Fans of both France and England joined in singing 'La Marseillaise' prior to Tuesday's friendly international at Wembley.

Officials then ruled that the anthem would be played before all this weekend's 10 top-flight matches in England, the first round of Premier League fixture since the attacks.

There are 72 French players involved in English football's top flight.

Two of those were on show at Vicarage Road, north of London, where Watford played Manchester United in the first of the weekend's Premier League matches.

United's Morgan Schneiderlin, a member of the France squad in Paris, and the Hornets' Etienne Capoue, whom television picture showed singing the anthem, took the field for the pre-match ceremony in the early kick-off.

The anthem was well observed although some United supporters sang "Ooh ah Cantona" to the tune, referencing their former French forward Eric Cantona ahead of the visitors 2-1 win.

Arsenal, managed by Frenchman Arsene Wenger, suffered a surprise 2-1 loss away to West Bromwich Albion.

Wenger's Arsenal team featured Olivier Giroud, who scored for the Gunners at the Hawthorns, and Laurent Koscielny, who both played for France against Germany.

But Wenger said the pair were in shape to feature on Saturday and refused to attribute Arsenal's defeat to the lingering effect of the Paris attacks.

"They (Giroud and Koscielny) were highly focused and had a desire to play," said Wenger.

"I don't know about the influence of what happened (in Paris) on the game. For my part, I would not explain our defeat by that.

"I think it's sad. We are all down. But when you're on the pitch, you're on the pitch," the long-serving Gunners boss added.

Swansea paid their own particular tribute by printing on the front cover of their programme for the match against Bournemouth, which ended in a 2-2 draw, a photograph of French striker Bafetimbi Gomis holding his country's flag as a tribute to those killed when the Paris-based Charlie Hebdo magazine was attacked earlier this year.

Saturday's late kick-off match between Manchester City and Liverpool saw several French Tricolores on display, including a large one held up by Liverpool fans bearing the letters 'YNWA' - a reference to the Merseyside club's anthem of 'You'll Never Walk Alone', with the 'A' drawn in the style of Paris's Eiffel Tower.

City's Eliaquim Mangala and Bacary Sagna, the only two French players involved in this match, both sang 'La Marseillaise' as it echoed round Eastlands.