Remembered: Football friendlies commemorate Kemerovo, terrorism victims and fallen stars
Russia’s 3-1 defeat to France in St. Petersburg was preceded by a minute’s silence to remember the 64 people who perished in a shopping center inferno in the Siberian city of Kemerovo. Supporters also hung banners on the terraces of Krestovsky Stadium with words of solidarity for those affected.
Before training on the day of the game, players ventured to the city’s Palace Square to lay flowers by the Alexander Column. Commenting on the tragedy, national team manager Stanislav Cherchesov said: “The tragedy has shaken us all.”
Russian players wore black armbands during the game and some national television stations broadcasting the match even switched their picture to black and white.
The minute’s silence – which was impeccably observed by all – was also dedicated to victims of the recent terrorism attacks in the towns of Carcassonne and Trebes, which were perpetrated by ISIS and left four people dead.
At Wembley Stadium, England were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Italy. The Azzurri disappointed Italians and neutrals alike by failing to qualify for Russia 2018 this summer.
Before their game, former Italy international and Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, who died in his sleep before a Serie A game with Udinese aged just 31, was remembered. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was among those to lead tributes to his friend, who he called a “truly good person.”
The England team also paid tribute to former international duo Cyrille Regis and Jimmy Armfield. Regis, credited with making a huge effort to tackle racism during his playing career, suffered a heart attack and died in January. One week later, England legend Armfield died of cancer.
A round of applause for all three men – whose images were shown on a big screen – rang around the famous stadium before the match kicked off.