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Fans and players pay their respects to victims of Paris attacks as French league games resume


PARIS — Grieving for the loss of his cousin, midfielder Lassana Diarra joined in with an emotional rendition of the national anthem before his Marseille side faced Saint-Etienne in the French league on Sunday.

Ligue 1 resumed this weekend in the wake of last week's attacks in Paris, where 130 people died — among them Diarra's cousin, with whom he was close — and fans from Normandy to Brittany and all the way down to Corsica paid their respects.

At Saint-Etienne's Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, the sadness was plain to see on Diarra's face as he lined up with his teammates. Saint-Etienne's players removed their jersey sponsor's logo and replaced it, touchingly, with a print of the Eiffel Tower. Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier struggled to contain his emotions as the crowd joined in with the anthem, holding scarves aloft.

A huge banner, with white letters on a black background, simply read: "Repose en Paix" (Rest in Peace). Marseille won the match 2-0.

Marseille's fans, traditionally the sworn enemies of Paris Saint-Germain, made efforts of their own. They made a banner which was placed at the feet of the players and read "Nous Sommes Paris" (We Are Paris), signed by the fan group Ultras Marseille. It was a moving gesture considering the massive enmity between Marseille supporters and their Parisian counterparts.

A minute's silence was then impeccably observed, as it was at all four of Sunday's games.

Standing in the middle of the field, a teenage girl sang a heartfelt rendition of La Marseillaise before Caen's game against Angers, followed soon after by total silence.

"I've never experienced a minute's silence such as this," Angers coach Stephane Moulin said. "When you feel such solidarity, it's something huge."

There were no away fans at any games this weekend, so as not to stretch the nation's police forces any further.

The matches themselves had little resonance, but Caen moved back up to third place after drawing 0-0, while Angers sits in fifth place and Saint-Etienne is in seventh spot. All are way behind runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain, which played Saturday.

Bastia hosted Gazelec Ajaacio in the Corsican derby at Stade Armand Cesari. A banner spread on the pitch read "Ripusate in Pace" (Rest in Peace). Balloons were released after a minute's applause.

"It gave me goose-bumps," Gazelec coach Thierry Laurey said.

Before the 2002 French Cup final, some Bastia fans whistled the national anthem at Stade de France. On Sunday, one group of supporters — Bastia 1905 — only entered the stadium after it was played.

Gazelec won 2-1 thanks to Jacques Zoua's penalty and Khalid Boutaib's second-half goal.

In chilly Brittany, dozens of children dressed either all in blue, white or red formed a human French flag in the center circle before the match between Rennes and Bordeaux — whose coach Willy Sagnol shut his eyes tightly during the minute's silence.

The peaceful mood was ruined when Bordeaux players reacted furiously after referee Sebastien Moreira awarded a penalty in the fourth minute of injury time. Sagnol pushed away his own players and defender was restrained as he tried to confront Moreira.

Striker 's spot kick was saved by Cedric Carrasso and the score finished 2-2.

Bordeaux twice came from behind, with striker cancelling out Ousmane Demebele's early goal, and defender replying after Poland forward made it 2-1.

Respects were paid as far away as Mexico.

Before the match between Tigres and Cruz Azul In Mexico, fans held up yellow placards — the colors of Tigres — with the Eiffel Tower printed on them.

After a minute's silence, the stadium loudspeakers played late French singer Edith Piaf's best-loved song: "La Vie en Rose."

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