France seeks memorial matches to mark 1914 football 'truce'

26th November 2013, Comments 0 comments

France called on its EU partners Tuesday to help stage football matches in memory of those Allied and German troops played during an impromptu 1914 Christmas truce between the trenches.

"It was a great moment of (human) fraternity to which we now want to add a political dimension," French Sports Ministers Valerie Fourneyron said ahead of a meeting with her 27 EU colleagues.

UEFA, the European football ruling body currently headed by French footballing great Michel Platini, has suggested that the 1914 Christmas truce matches in Belgium and northern France should be replayed as part of the 100th anniversary commemoration of the bloody conflict.

Soldiers on both sides downed weapons, calling a brief halt to the mass slaughter to celebrate Christmas in a move their officers condemned as fraternisation with the enemy.

"Several countries back this idea and the Belgian government has said it would stage" the matches, Fourneyron said.

They will most likely be held in and around the small village of Ypres, the bloody epicentre of some of the most costly and futile battles on the Western Front.

There was no repeat of the football matches as the war dragged on.

Fourneyron suggested the matches could take place in December 2014 to coincide with an EU leaders' summit but the details have yet to be settled.

© 2013 AFP

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