Charlie Hebdo: Arsene Wenger, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Romain Grosjean lead tributes to Paris terrorist attack victims

French sport will mark the shocking attack this weekend with a minute's silence before games this weekend

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The Independent Online

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes France remains united after the "dreadful and terrible" terrorist attack at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris this week.

12 people were killed in Wednesday's attack on the offices of the weekly publication, which had been threatened before for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed.

Wenger expressed his dismay at the events and hopes that what happened will not polarise the French population along religious or ethnic lines.

"It is a dreadful and terrible situation," the Frenchman said.

"It is shocking. I think the whole country is shocked. France is a country with a freedom of speech, it has a big history and to think in a country like France you can die today because of your ideas and the way you want to speak is absolutely shocking.

 

"I hope at the moment that the whole country is united and I hope it will not create a divided country, the consequences of that would be terrible."

Many other stars from the world of sport showed their support on Thursday with the likes of tennis stars Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marion Bartoli posting messages on social network sites, as did Formula One driver Romain Grosjean.

 

The French Football Federation, as well as the governing body for French rugby union, announced that all fixtures played under their auspices would observe a minute's silence beforehand.

 

The French Basketball Federation, the French Cyclo-cross Championships at Pontchateau and the Ski-cross World Cup event at Val Thorens will also all hold a minute's silence to honour the victims of the attack labelled by President Francois Hollande as: "an act of exceptional barbarism".

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Armed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris

The Ligue 1 match between Lyon and Toulouse on Sunday has been moved back by three hours to avoid a clash with national tributes to the victims of this week's Paris shootings.

A major rally in Paris is planned in support of those who died in Wednesday's attack.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel announced in a statement on its website: "In agreement with Lyon, Toulouse and the broadcaster beIN SPORTS, the match Lyon - Toulouse, initially scheduled for Sunday at 2pm (1pm GMT), has been moved to the same day at 5pm (4pm GMT).

"This move has been made in order to respect the national tribute which will take place on Sunday afternoon during the march of the republic after the attack on Charlie Hebdo."

PA

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