England vs. France soccer match more than just a game

LONDON -- When is a game more than a game?

When the visiting team's anthem is the theme song of the night.

When the national stadium of England is decorated in the colors and slogan of the old sporting enemy, France.

When the game comes just four days after suicide bombers tried to blow themselves up in the crowd during another game in Paris, but detonated their bombs outside when they couldn't get in.

When two members of the French team were directly affected by the attacks. Lassana Diara's cousin was killed. Antoine Griezmann's sister escaped from the Bataclan concert-hall massacre.

When the heaviest security anybody can remember is set up around the stadium.

It was the French who said they wanted this game to go ahead. The English not only agreed, they turned it into an exercise in solidarity.

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French fans at the match between France and England

"We're here to support England, we're here to support France. Yes to peace and no to terror," said an English fan.

And when it was time for the anthems, instead of a competition between rivals, there was a sing-a-long. The words to the French 'Marseillaise' put up on the scoreboard so the English fans could join in.

Those two centuries old French Revolutionary lyrics about resistance to invasion and blood flowing seemed as relevant now as when they were written.

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The anthem's historic message of defiance resonates now, and not just in France. The challenge though is how to turn that defiance into effective international action.

But what mattered at the match was the sentiment.

"I cried like for two days and I was desperate. Now I am here to support my country, and I know that every country is behind us in our situation," said a French fan.

The score in the game: 2-0, England.

Nobody cared.

  • Mark Phillips
    Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips is CBS News senior foreign correspondent, based in London.