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France president insists cancelling EURO 2016 never an option
Publish Time 2016-03-30 17:23:00
France president Francois Hollande has stressed the notion of postponing or cancelling EURO 2016 has never been raised, saying the tournament is a way to respond to recent terror attacks in Europe.
On Wednesday morning (AEDT) France played at the Stade de France for the first time since the area around the venue was targeted as part of a series of coordinated attacks on the city of Paris in November in which 130 people were killed.
Belgium's game with Portugal was moved from Brussels to Leiria after last Tuesday's attacks in the Belgian capital that claimed the lives of 35 people, SBS reports.
However, France's prime minister Manuel Valls has previously insisted EURO 2016 will go ahead and Hollande said of the tournament: "It's a major event as it's a sports competition, but we wanted to make it a cultural, social, economic and to a certain extent a political event in its best meaning.
"This means a challenge to be together, for unity, for respect, tolerance and within the actual context, it's a way to respond to hatred, division, fear and horror.
"It has never been questioned that it would be postponed or cancelled. What would have been said about France or what would have been said about Europe?
"We are facing a threat. It exists, we can't deny it, refute it or reject it. We know what happened in Paris or Saint-Denis. We were there.
"The [French Football Federation] president [Noel Le Graet] and a lot of people here were there, at Stade de France. "We do know what happened at Brussels. But EURO 2016 is rightly a response [to the attacks]."
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